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Ebb And Flow

2-1 deficit not as emphatic to support your enthusiasm but still was an unlikely turn of events for most and very enjoyable experience (I was at every playoff game).

The problem this season is it doesn't feel like that this time around. You don't have that energetic feeling about this team going into the last 23 games. Although last year most still didn't think they would get out of the first round the building was still jumping down the stretch. Fans were excited and supportive because there was a different feeling about the team.

This year they haven't showed that enough and certainly having maintained it long enough to build up some steam which the fans can rally around. 3rd worst attendance when they are giving tickets away for damn near nothing says a lot.

My best guess is that the crowds are more subdued because the expectations were so much higher this season and the start was so disappointing.

Even so, I don't think they really started drawing or getting good crowds until very late in the season, and then I don't think they sold out playoff games either. I bought tickets the day before for game 4.

Anyway, while I'd love to see a packed house and a crazy crowd every night, that's not really what I'm talking about. I get pumped for every game because there's the chance that the electric version of the Sixers will show up, and when they do, they tend to stick around for a while.

You sure you weren't talking about me when you wrote this? :)

Great, great write-up.

In this quick trigger world of sports that we live in, it is so easy to get down with a few losses and really easy to get on an emotional high with a few wins. I still yearn to watch each and every game that they play also (while getting my money's worth of League Pass).

I have a vivid memory of those posts after the Iverson trade from the archives you speak of.

Going back to last year's playoffs, they were much closer than most realize to pulling that series out or at least putting a lot of pressure on the Pistons to come out of a hole except they had that letdown in that unforgettable game (forget which one it was).

game 4. had a 10-point lead at the half, not that the game still haunts me or anything.

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Bryon reply to Brian on Mar 6 at 17:32
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Something that is easy to overlook being a Sixers fan is that even though they are hovering around .500, they have went through roster mayhem with Brand supposedly being integrated in, then Brand being out for a while, then another re-integration of Brand only to have him announced out for the year.

All this on top of a coach being fired a quarter of the way in that had them playing around the top of the league the end of last year and then turning to a front office guy that hadn't been on the sidelines for like 19 years, all the while having to adjust to some new bench players.

The team hasn't done all that bad considering the upheaval they have had to endure. Because most of us fans' expectations were high coming into this season, it seems worse than it really is.

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Real and Speightacular on Mar 6 at 18:02
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Great post Brian. Sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle. Sometimes a team can get deliriously lost in The Zone with the probability gps completely burned out. Happens. It's the next season wot tells you if it was more a fantastic tease than glowing signpost to future greatness. Ask Houston, ask Toronto (they won the Atlantic, what, yesterday, right?) ask Denver (next season).

Philly's had some trouble this season, bumpity bump bump bump. Can't settle down. Last year this time they were fully ensconsed in the groove, not so right now. They first need to get on the right track and they'll have a chance with the games coming up (warning: Toronto is a trap game). There's definitely cause for optimism if DiLeo's finally figured out the right path. Let's see how it flows...

Brian,

I think you just out did yourself with this blog. Wow, excellent!!! I left my thoughts on ReclinerGM and wish I had read this before I left them. The old saying, we can look at the glass 1/2 full or empty.

If we, the fans, were reasonable, we would realize that the team lost their franchise player, had a horrible coach (sorry Mo but) for the first 1/3 of the season, had to adjust to a new coach and so on. We could just as easily be in 4th place right now if things went the other way instead of negative.

Great, and I say, LET'S GO SIXERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nice. What'd be interesting to see is... what exactly happened to that 14-4 team before the break? Are the Sixers doing something different? Are the players just not playing as well? They look like a totally different team than the one that went into the break.

This is kind of a chicken egg thing, ostensibly, they got hot because they shot better. Now, did they shoot better because they were winning, thus their confidence was higher? No way to tell. I think it's clear, though, that when this team collectively shoots well, they're among the best in the league. The only problem is that they are not good shooters, so you're going to have extreme peaks and valleys. They're in a valley right now, but they've shown signs of coming out of it, check out the four factors worksheet to see what I'm talking about.

Ultimately, I think they're a young team that lives and dies on confidence, if they can string together a few wins against bad teams, the confidence will rise. If they can win the next four, I think they run right over Miami, then we can worry about that trip to the left coast.

They hovered around 500 last year - with or without brand - another 'hovering around 500 season' could be seen as no over all improvement in the team.

Actually, they didn't hover around .500 all season. They were pitiful early on. That 19-5 run moved them from 12 under to 2 over .500, then they hovered around .500 the rest of the way. Pretty much what they've done this year, with a lot more controversy.

Oddly, last year the catalyst for their improvement was the Korver trade (although it was delayed), this year the improvement coincided with Brand's injury.

Not sure any of this means anything, but them's the facts.

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Bryon reply to John on Mar 6 at 21:06
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Depends on one's definition of improvement. Improvement can consist of more than just win-loss record.

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John reply to Bryon on Mar 6 at 22:05
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Yes it can - but while there may be some improvement in some players we've seen others take a step bck and others demonstrate that they're still stagnant.

And while there are peaks - there are valleys - but at the end of the day they were 40-42 last year and they'll probably be close to that this year - which isn't too surprising since they're basically the same team (since brand didn't play all that much) still starting at least one bench player and two guys out of position.

So to me - they're no closer to winning that title then they were at the end of last season - not yet anyway - and since miller has a limited life span - they've got one less year left (if they keep him) to maximize the rest of the team while he's still contributory.

How do millers over all numbers (advanced) compare to last year actually?

Just a quick glance says the following:

offensive rating: better this year
defensive rating: better this year
PER: better this year
Rebound %: better this year
Steal %: better this year
Block %: better this year
True shooting percentage: better this year
EFG: better this year
Offensive Win Shares: 5.6 in 82 games last year, 4.9 in 59 games so far this year (on pace for 7.18, which would be the second-highest total of his career)
Defensive Win Shares: 2.5 in 82 games last year, 2.2 in 59 games so far this year (on pace for 3.22, which would be the highest total of his career)
Total Win Shares: 8.1 in 82 games last year, 7.1 in 59 games this year (on pace for 10.4, which would be the highest total of his career.
Usage Percentage: Down from 22.6 last year to 21.6 this year.

The only dropoff he's seen is in assist %, from 32.0 to 30.4.

Basically, this is the best year of his career, and he's completely kicking ass.

So when they shoot improbably well, they're a very good team because they already play good defense and have a great running game. But this team is incapable of shooting well for a full season and probably incapable of shooting well in the playoffs, when, in the NBA at least, a team's weaknesses tend to get magnified. So yeah, that stretch didn't mean much.

This, along with Jordan's comment above, got me thinking, so I pulled the numbers from both seasons and compared the numbers from the hot streak to the season as a whole to see what the main difference was, statistically, during the hot runs in both seasons.

Not shockingly, the team shot better, or to be more accurate, they shot more efficiently in the hot streaks.

2007-2008: eFG was 2.4% higher during the run.
2008-2009: eFG was 2.8% higher during the run.

But like I said, it wasn't purely shooting. They actually performed better in every category (except defensive rebounding) this year. I'm talking about the four factors categories.

They drastically cut down their turnovers, their free throw rate skyrocketed, they grabbed more offensive rebounds, they caused more turnovers and they held their opponents to a lower eFG.

It wasn't purely shooting, which brings me back to my original point, more than anything I think it's a matter of confidence. When this team is going well, it's infectious. And if I had to point to anything, I'd say it starts with their defense, rather than their shooting. When they're getting stops, and getting turnovers that turn into easy hoops, their confidence swells and they shoot better.

Is that something they can replicate in the playoffs? I don't see any reason why not.

They didn't lose that Detroit series because of their offense. In the two wins they only shot 43% and 45% from the floor. They lost it because they couldn't get stops in the other four games. In the two wins they held detroit to 41% and 29% shooting. In three of the four losses, Detroit shot better than 50% from the floor.

I appreciate your optimism.

Given I will not be able to see the games next week, you can bet they will be starting a winning streak... maybe I'll watch them on tape when I get back.

Thanks for trying to stem the tide of negativity. I've certainly done my part to add to it.

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Tom Moore on Mar 7 at 10:51
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With a five-game Western swing starting March 17 vs. the Lakers, the Sixers have to do well in this stretch -- 4-1 or better -- against teams that are a combined 74 games below .500 if they want to have a shot at the fifth seed. The Pistons, who were free-falling, have won four in a row without Iverson. The Sixers are three games from No. 5 and three games from being out of the playoffs.

Absolutely. This is a huge, huge five-game stretch. Need to get it started on the right foot today. Hopefully the shooting coach fixed Lou and helped Thad regain his form from the early season.


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