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My Integration Plan

Good post Brian. I believe we will see a little confusion when Elton Brand comes back, but as you said the team is playing better now and the transition may not be as bad as it was in the beginning of the season. As with the minutes it will always depend on the game situation and who we are playing. I would like to see Sammy minutes slowly decline and the combo of Reggie/Theo increase, 10 minute between them seems a little low. I love the energy that Reggie plays with and the how he attacks the game every play. I dont think we should be giving a guy minutes just because he makes more money. The Willie and Sammy contracts were Billy Kings mistakes and making guys play because of their salary does not benefit the teams progress. If it is because we are trying to move him by a show case then yea keep his minutes up, but other wise I feel Sammy's minutes should decline.

I think his minutes will continue to decline, but for the time being, he needs to be in there for his shot blocking and rebounding, if nothing else.

Take a look at the box score from last night, Sammy played 30 minutes, only attempted 1 shot and 2 free throws (hitting all of them). Grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. If you get that kind of rebounding and defense out of him on a nightly basis, 22 minutes/game is perfectly fine. Reggie and Theo aren't going to have that great of an affect on the game. If he keeps his turnovers down and they limit his shots to dunks and put-backs, he'll be fine.

Yeah, just an incredible job here, Brian, as always. If this isn't the best Sixers blog going, well, I don't know what is.

Sammy really showed me something last night. He did exactly what Sammy should do: intimidate on defense. He dominated the paint on defense in the first half... I'm pretty sure most of his 9 boards and 3 blocks came before halftime. And most importantly, he only took one shot. Perfect. Fantastic. There's absolutely no reason why this man should be shooting the basketball, unless he's catching an alley-oop pass for a sure dunk. That's it. If he can continue to wrap his head around this fact, then I won't have to curse nearly as much when he's on the court. Now, is it financially reasonable to be paying a guy $11 million a year just to play tough defense for 24 minutes/game? That's hard to say.

Thanks for the kind words.

As far as salary goes, the benefit Ed has is that Dalembert's salary isn't on him. He doesn't have to explain to his boss why he signed a guy to a huge contract if he's only going to use him as a defender/rebounder for 22 minutes/game.

That being said, if you really want to trade Dalembert, you have to keep his minutes up to showcase him, and also to make it look like you'd be perfectly happy to keep him.

As soon as a player like Sammy gets marginalized by his own team, it becomes an extreme buyer's market for him.

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Bryon reply to Bart on Jan 15 at 13:34
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'...the best Sixers blog going...' - the best Sixers blog?? I thought it was the ONLY Sixers blog:)

I'm still curios as to where Theo's been the past few games - no PT and no word from the sixers and he'd been playing well - just weird - i know he's on a minimum deal - but I wonder if he's a 'motivatiing piece' in a trade or something so they are making sure he don't get hurt?

I think DiLeo goes to Theo mainly when Sammy gets in early foul trouble. Sammy's done a good job of avoiding that.

This is just a guess, but I think the rotation is set up so Lou and Speights can give the team an offensive spark late in the first and early in the second. Rather than bring Speights in with 8 minutes to go in the first when Sammy picks up his second foul, he opts to go w/ Theo to keep the defensive presence in there and also keep Williams and Speights together for that spark. Just a thought.

As always, Brian, great post. Dileo has done such a good job with rotations. I believe he understands limiting willie's minutes and working lou at the two. I'm excited to finally see the flexible, athletic, tough lineup we all thought we'd be seeing at the beginning of the year. Now, we have some unfinished business with the spurs.

Zumoffism :)

The last 2 games DiLeo already has made a small but important change in the rotation. He now has Speights as the 1st big off the bench instead of Theo or Evans. This is important for when Brand returns.

Also, I see you have them back to how they started the season with Iguodala/Thad at SG/SF. I agree that long term this is the way to go, but we'll see if it works right now. Iguodala turned the corner before Brand's injury- when he was moved back to starting at SF. I hope that now that he has it going that a shift to starting at SG goes better this time around.

On the 'positive' side, the Sixers best five man unit is Miller-Iguodala-Young-Brand-Dalembert who are +63 this year.

Yup. Despite the poor shooting, lack of running, inefficiency in the half court, the starting unit was still productive. The big problems usually came in the second when the bench came in.

Let me echo the compliments - this has become exactly what a great team blog should be: passionate, thoughtful, committed. We're lucky to have it. But if you keep sounding this optimistic you might have to change the name (is the name for the Eagles blog a sign of things to come?). This would present a challenge for me; as a lifelong Philadelphian I am allergic to optimism about sports teams and municipal government.

As long as we continue to observe what we might call the D'Antoni effect (guys start shooting the three well because the coach convinces them that they can), Dre's move back to the 2 will go fine. But if he slumps and loses his confidence we got problems.

I think I'm probably more excitable than optimistic, to be honest. I see good things out on the floor right now, and when I see that I get really hopeful. It works the other way too. Thanks for complement, though.

I hadn't really thought about the D'Antoni effect, but that's a great call. If it holds up, this team will be very difficult to defend.

I think Speights should get more minutes. Sammy as well. Eliminate Reggie and Theo from the rotation.

When you get to the playoffs you can trim the rotation to 8. For now, with this style of play, I think you want 10 guys getting minutes.

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Joe reply to Brian on Jan 15 at 17:58
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I think you can go to a 4 man rotation at PF/C... Brand, Dalembert, Speights, and Thaddeus occasionally. Dalembert/Speights can play a combined 50 minutes on average and all is good.

So what's your prognosis for this team? You sound very optimistic. 47 wins and a 6th seed, something like that?

That would be a 29-15 finish from here on out. Hmmnnnnnn....

They really don't have a hard remaining schedule:

Road games vs. teams who are clearly better than them: @ Cleveland, @ Lakers, @ New Orleans. For argument's sake, count all of those as losses. That's 3 losses.

Borderline road games: @ Detroit, @ Phoenix, @ Houston, @ Portland. Say they split those. That's 5 losses, total.

They play Boston twice, San Antonio, Orlando, New Orleans, Cleveland and Denver at home. Say they go 3-4 in those 7. That's 9 losses. (they play Cleveland twice and Boston once in the final week of the season, those teams could have their playoff seeds locked by then, so counting them as losses may be overly-cautious, but we'll stick with it).

The rest of their games are what I'd consider winnable. So that's 30 games against teams they're either evenly matched with or better than. The way they're playing right now I don't think 24-6 is out of the question in those remaining games (14 on the road, 16 at home). I also don't think it's likely.

If you made me swear to a number right now, I'll go with 45. I don't think they win 24 of those other games, but I do think they win some of the tougher games mentioned above. 27-17 from here on out seems fair, and I think that record puts you in a battle for the #5 seed. 47 wins may get you up to the #4 seed and homecourt advantage in the first round (Atlanta and Detroit are both sinking like the Titanic right now).

What do you think? .500 from here on out would put them at 40-42, exact same record as last season.

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Tray reply to Brian on Jan 15 at 17:48
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Guess I'm thinking 42-43 wins and another first-round knockout.

Entirely possible. The biggest factors, for me, are how Brand integrates with the team (which I'm optimistic about), whether Brand can avoid re-injuring his shoulder (which I'm pessimistic about) and what, if any, moves they make before the trading deadline.

I'm sticking with my pre season prediction - 3rd place in the division and first round loss - not guessing at record -

Who's second in the division?

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john reply to Brian on Jan 15 at 18:34
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At the time it was Toronto in my mind - right now - i'm not sure - but i'm just saying 3rd place is what i think still :)

Never let logic get in the way of a good prediction. :) Knicks #2.

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john reply to Brian on Jan 15 at 18:42
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WEll right now the nets are in second place by half a game in front of the sixers -so it could be them too - no idea - have to compare schedules the rest of the way etc...

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Joe reply to john on Jan 15 at 21:04
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If the season started today, how many games would the Sixers win?

I would say 50 would be a nice answer. Apply that pace to the remainder of the season and you get a 45 win season from the Sixers and probably a 5 seed.

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Tray reply to Joe on Jan 15 at 22:07
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I mean, Minnesota just had a 5-game winning streak. Can't get too optimistic on the basis of, what, 7-8 strong games.

Bizarrely, Bayless, who really looked terrible last night, has shot 24.6% on the year, tonight dropped 23 on 6-9, 11-11 shooting.

Golden State, Chicago, Memphis, OKC and Milwaukee. Not quite as impressive as Houston, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Atlanta and Portland.

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Tray reply to Brian on Jan 16 at 2:52
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No, not quite as, but just as the fact that they won 5 straight against mediocre and bad teams is perfectly consistent with the possibility that they'll continue to play sub-.300 ball, our getting hot briefly against some good and mediocre teams is perfectly consistent with our continuing to play .500 ball the rest of the way.

Well, while I wouldn't be particularly happy with it, .500 ball would be a significant improvement from what we were playing before the streak (.393 ball). So any way you cut it, it's a turnaround.

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JohnM reply to Brian on Jan 16 at 9:49
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Today's game - Brand or not is one of those 'telling' games -

Is John Hollinger nuts or is John Hollinger an evil genius?

Philadelphia is storming back up the Power Rankings, moving up to No. 11, and the Playoff Odds now have the Sixers finishing in a tie with Miami for the sixth seed in the East -- not exactly what they'd hoped for at the start of the season, perhaps, but a great improvement on the chasm they were in a month ago.

Philly blasted Portland by 21 on Wednesday for its fifth straight win, and while its improved 3-point shooting is getting a deserved chunk of the credit, there's a second story here -- the Sixers are playing small.

Philly is lining up with Thaddeus Young at the 4 and pounding opponents in transition, and by using four perimeter players most of the night, they have enough floor spacing to generate more of those 3-point opportunities.

All of which is of note because Elton Brand is due back this weekend. With Samuel Dalembert all but useless anyway, it seems the best option for the Sixers would be to use Brand as the starting center -- that way, they can keep running opponents ragged with their transition game, and they'll have four perimeter players to spot up around Brand when he's posting up.

He's mostly nuts, in this case. I'm sure we'll see lineups with Brand as the center, but I doubt it's going to be the starting lineup and I also question making a move like this to keep Willie Green on the floor.

Miller, Lou, Iggy, Thad and Brand is a lineup I expect to see from time to time, and I expect it to be productive as well.

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JohnM reply to Brian on Jan 15 at 22:52
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I'm not sure who i want out of the starting line up more actually - Sam's been good for a couple of games - but he's still Sam

I'll put my two cents into the prediction mix...I originally thought 50 wins and a number 4 seed. I'll say 44 wins and a number 6. Could be less than that if they wet the bed at some point like they did at the end of last season. Unfortunately, I can't see them beating any of the big three at the moment. Maybe Orlando, if Superman gets hurt.

Superman doesn't scare me at all, really. Orlando's shooters do.

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JohnM reply to Brian on Jan 15 at 22:50
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I'm scared of Stan Van Gundy - dude doesn't back down from anyone - he'd kick your ass

He's probably got a complex from Jeff kicking his ass when he was a kid.

The 10 minutes Thad is playing PF, who is playing center? I'm not sure a Brand/Thad let alone a Speights/Thad frontcourt can get it done against most teams.

if you go Thad/Sam, that accounts for nearly 1/2 of Sam's 22 minutes.

I'm not trying to nit pick, but the way Thad and Iguodala's minutes are distributed si the biggest decision. You have Thad still playing 10 min at PF, and that really puts a crunch on things unless Brand/Thad can play together in the front-court.

I'd actually like to see about 10 minutes of this lineup/night:

Miller, Lou, Iggy, Thad and Brand.

Call me crazy, but I think it would work very well, and Brand can hang with most centers in the league, outside of the elite guys.

I'd like to see more of a Brand/Speights front court - just to see it...i think the one player who seemed to benefit the 'most' (after Iguodala) of course from Brands absence was Speights...the minutes opened up for him - and while he had some misses I think he made the most of it (ESPN Rookie Rankings 'subjective' he made it to #9 this week, based on PER he's still the #1 rookie by a long shot)...and I think it's the 'future' of the sixers sooner than later.

In some ways Speights is this year's Thad Young. He may not be dominant (although I guess on a per minute basis he has been) but he is that energetic X factor that is a difference maker for the team.

As for Brian's Lilliputian line-up of Miller, Lou, Iggy, Thad and Brand... you definitely need to pick your spots with that one. I would think Brand's center match-up would be the least of your concerns in terms of size mismatches.

hey,anyone noticed when brand has two or three,sometimes even four defenders on him, he refuses to pass the ball and decides to take the bad shot. i hopes he's out of that stage.

I think the big problem was that there were no easy passes for him to make. They routinely passed the ball to Brand in the post and then abandoned the strong side of the floor.

Hopefully the entire team has learned its lesson on floor spacing and teams will have to pay for doubling, and yes, hopefully he'll be kicking it out more often when he's double and tripled.

I'm not sure matching up would be much of a problem unless you're playing a team w/ two beefy bigs up front, or two really big guards.

Lou covers PG, Miller covers SG (this happens quite a bit, no matter who else is on the floor for them), no real size mismatch there. Miller can guard bigger guys.

Iggy on SF, Thad on PF (which we've seen every game since Brand got hurt, and a large portion of last season as well) and Brand on the C, which will always be a height mismatch, but Brand plays bigger than 6'9" with that monster wingspan and good strength.


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