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Take Nothing For Granted

You're 2-3 down in the playoffs and one loss means the end of the season. That's all that can go in the players' minds.

No doubt it will throw the game plan way off without Howard in the game. If Howard is the defensive player the way they hype him there's no reason the Sixers can't score 60 in the paint without him in there.

Gortat is more than decent. Losing Lee is also going to be a hit for them, losing penetration. Now they are a bunch of shooters with less penetration and without a big man to draw double teams. Dalembert and Ratliff will be able to help on snuffing out drives to the hoop. Hopefully Speights will get some floor time as well.

Dalembert is going to be interesting. With Howard out, and obviously he being the victim of the errant elbow, I look for him to assert himself on the boards. He should block several shots as well. His shoulder is affecting him but priority now is winning Game 6.

With Howard out, I think I would have Sammy helping Thad in the post when Lewis is backing him down. Take that option away from them, and double off Gortat/Battie.

I think this is one of those games where you could use Speights, a lot - and give the 'useless' offensive big men a bit more rest so they could be ready for a game 7 - no need to run theo or reggie out there...

I think this is one of those games where you use whatever's available to make absolutely sure you get the win. If that means Sammy for 40 minutes, fine. In no way shape or form can this game be coached or played with an eye toward game 7. That's the trap.

john reply to Brian on Apr 29 at 17:44

But with howard out -t he 'need' for ratliff when sammy picks up his two fouls is reduced they don't need to 'body' to stop howard

You can ADJUST your coaching based on who is on the floor - no howard changes the way you substitute (or at least the way a good coach substitutes)

Lee being out is big too - dudes been huge this series

Theo isn't only needed to body up on Howard, he's needed to protect the rim and rebound as well. The need for those two things doesn't diminish with Howard out.

My point is that you absolutely cannot go into this game saying you're going to get some rest for those guys so they can bang against Howard in game 7. Do you adjust your rotations? If you think some kind of adjustment gives you a better chance against the lineups the Magic will be forced to use, then yes. But you don't adjust simply to get guys rest.

This game is still scary. However, all we need to do defensively is EXACTLY what we've been doing (single coverage vs the C) and we should be fine.

Offensively we can't settle for jumpers. On paper, this strategy is so simple it's almost too easy. And that's why I'm nervous.

Alvin reply to Mike W. on Apr 29 at 18:20

Games are won on the floor. If Sixers think they can cakewalk this one then they are going to get beat, plain and simple.

No one expects a cakewalk in the playoffs and gets away with it. You must go out there and beat your opponent. Play aggressive. We need to find that attitude we had in Game 1.

I hope some of the players are mad at SVG. The desire to beat SVG's team should be motivation enough.

I agree with John. This game would be the perfect time to trot out more of our regular-season lineup. Battie and Gortat are both ok big men, but we should take advantage of how little time they've spent on the floor. I would imagine that we might see a line-up at some point that Orlando hasn't put on the court all year (between missing Lee, Howard, and Jameer), and we will have to make them pay. If we clamp down on the perimeter and use our bigs to help (sparingly) on dribble penetration we should be able to contain them.

Having not played in a couple of weeks, Speights should see limited minutes, but should be on the court nonetheless. Despite the match-up problems with Speights and Lewis, there have been times this series when I've wished for a big man with at least a little offensive flair in his game. Considering that Donyell has put in some minutes at center for us, Speights must be getting antsy over there on the bench. Maybe some strong play from Marreese could convince DiLeo to give him a little burn in game 7.

While Sp8's may get a run on Thurs. night, he has done nothing to earn the opportunity based on his play the last month of the season, when all he could do was jack up 15 footers. Now I am all for the idea to pull DH out of the paint, but you could do this with Sam or Theo. Sp8's gets abused too often on the defensive end to see even spot minutes in these playoff games. I like the kid, don't get me wrong, he just isn't ready for this type of basketball yet.

Alvin reply to Bryon on Apr 29 at 18:13

Yes, I get very upset when players settle for jumpers. I get mad with Lou all the time. It's the same with Speights. But it's worthwhile to give him a go. Tell him what you expect (rebounding effort, working in the paint, scoring near the basket) and if he doesn't contribute, you can yank him. But give the kid a run. Especially since you know he can score and the rest of the team has struggled mightily in putting the ball in the basket.

Bryon reply to Alvin on Apr 29 at 21:40

I'm not totally against giving him a run, but only in this game. I have not missed seeing the guy the last few games even though we may could have used him on the offensive end, but I'm not sure if the trade-off would have been worth it.

Joe reply to Bryon on Apr 29 at 19:11

Speights can shoot, so I wouldn't say his shots are "settling for jumpers" if he is open. It more is taking a good shot.

As for Lou, well, he can't shoot.

Bryon reply to Joe on Apr 29 at 21:44

Agree that he can shoot, but I would rather see the guy, being he is 6'10", get on the blocks a little more. And this may not be his fault that he doesn't, but moreso the coaching staffs.

but you could do this with Sam or Theo.

Well howard ain't playing this game - i only wanted to see speights in this game...additionally - sam nor theo 'pull anyone out' because they have the offensive game (from distance) of forrest gump

Bryon reply to john on Apr 29 at 21:55

It doesn't take 'offensive game' to pull a center out of the lane. Ever heard of a high ball screen, Sam and Theo have been setting them all series and wouldn't you know it, Howard followed them out to the perimeter.

Seems like the spread has come out in a place or 2. So far I see the Sixers -2 and -3. Seems about right. Check page 2 for the 2nd line.


Note to commenters, that Gortat guy rebounds at a rate high enough to qualify for top 5 in the league, if he had the minutes. Can't put Speights on the court against him.(/argument)

Joe reply to Joe on Apr 29 at 19:17

And if you like anecdotal evidence, watch the tape of Speights in this series against Gortat. Gortat owned him on the boards over and over.

Speights should see spot minutes at most.

Bryon reply to Joe on Apr 29 at 21:52

I'm of the mindset that you shouldn't do anything different than you have been doing as far as minutes or rotations. This isn't the time to try to find any particular player any minutes, not with this game being do or die. Tony already stated before game 5 that he wanted to get Sp8's on the court if he could so I would suspect we will see him.

But I'm with you, that his time should be of the limited fashion b/c his assets are really scoring and nothing else, which could be more detrimental as far as possessions go compared to what few points he could give.

Real and Speightacular reply to Bryon on Apr 30 at 10:17
"[Speights'] assets are really scoring and nothing else"

Like, whoah. I don't think you've been paying enough attention if that's all you see. Aside from the obvious benefit of having a guy who has natural scoring instincts (one who can ball in the post and has one of (if not the) best midrange jumpshots on the team) out on the floor to help balance those offensively-challenged lineups that DiLeo likes to throw out there, he's also been a fiend for offensive boards, shot-blocking and -- wonders -- doesn't turn the ball over like some other goateed single-purposed (deeboard) hack I won't mention.

He's had some outlier games this season where he's sucked up a bunch of defensive boards as well, but obviously that's not the end of the court he relishes even tho he's still passable at it for a rook. Late season inconsistency aside, he's generally a net plus and has earned some time on the floor.

He's played just over 15 mins of playoff ball over two games so far. He's grabbed 4 boards (3 defensive) -- which projects to a more than decent 9 boards/36 -- and shot 50% from the field. His problem's been foul trouble (well in the 2nd game anyway), but that's hardly been unique to him. If he can learn to settle his nerves and happy feet, he's got the length, timing and just enough lateral speed to be a bother to most of the Magic's long tall shooters. So far, it hasn't taken a whole lot to get those guys out of rhythm.

On a completely different note, Bri, what's the deal with the ads here. They seem to be more intrusive than usual of late. I have to come to this site with my ad blockers on which I'm supposing is counterproductive. Is it time to make that move to your own Wordpress set up? I'm sure you'll do well outside this network (it may've been a factor in your not being accepted to the espn thing? you're cleeeearly head and shoulders better than they guy they picked). I'm sure there's regulars here who can help you set that up.

Actually, I run this network. The new ads are just an experiment to see how they perform.

Real and Speightacular reply to Brian on Apr 30 at 11:47

Blogs by Fans is you? Impressive!

I really don't like the ads here. on hover stuff bothers me. At work, I can't change my internet settings either to stop it from taking over my browser.

At home, I use ad block plus.

www.marginalrevolution.com is the only blog with ads that I don't block the ads for, because thye are very unobtrusive.

I dropped that ad that stayed at the top of the site. It seemed overly obtrusive.

I definitely appreciate feedback from you guys on ads. If it's an ad network, I'll do what I can to make this as user-friendly as possible. Direct ad sales are a different story, since they actually pay some bills.

I realize that you are infatuated with the kid, but if he offered any of the supposed positives you list, don't you think the powers that be (DiLeo, assistants, Stefanski) would play this kid before a 36 year old Theo Ratliff.

You readily admit he doesn't relish the defensive end of the floor in addition to being nervous with happy feet, so you pretty much summed up what I already said initially, that his only asset at this point is scoring.
Because you obviously were stretching it with saying he is a feind for offensive boards and his prowess for shot-blocking.

As for his 'just enough lateral speed', I'm wondering who's paying attention. The kid was constantly in recover mode for most of the year after his man had went by him which resulted in most of his shot blocks from the back side.

Real and Speightacular reply to Bryon on Apr 30 at 18:10

B, you're giving "the powers that be" too much credit. There's lots moves/non-moves DiLeo's made that've been, at best, questionable. But anyway, I don't think Speights is a true center and if you're putting in Ratliff it's not because the man can really score the ball. Those two are apples and oranges.

"Because you obviously were stretching it with saying he is a feind for offensive boards and his prowess for shot-blocking."

No. No I am not stretching anything. The numbers speak for themselves and you're free to do your own homework and find out if his o-boards and shot-blocking are (on a per-minute basis, obviously) on par with the better big men in the league. And don't forget about his low turnover rate as well, which you conveniently left out. Obviously, I've no shame in saying I'm a big fan, but I'm not trying to say this kid's a do-it-all Superman -- I've mentioned his flaws (as I see em) before -- but to me it's just ludicrous to sit there and say scoring is ALL he can do.

And as for just enough lateral speed please re-read the context.

I'm really hoping the Sixers can take advantage and have a breakout win. Even beating a shorthanded team (like Cleveland the last game) seems to help get them going.

Honestly have no idea how they will perform (still scarred by those Indiana and OKC losses against hobbled teams.) But I'll take a game 7 anyway they can get it- then anything can happen.

I'd even take a win as sign of improvement over last season... I don't believe in *'s.

Tom Moore on Apr 30 at 0:30

Can use Speights on Battie. Both like to play away from the basket.

Agree with Brian about having to do whatever it takes to win this game, regardless of who plays how many minutes.

Tom Moore on Apr 30 at 0:56

As for Speights, could he have been worse than Marshall (0-for-3) in Game 5?

I think the sample size of the rest of the season has some bearing. Marshall was incredible for this team all season.

great advice Brian, I just wrote similar things

I might add to the list of games vs depleted teams that we lost, the home game vs Indiana (dressing eight players and playing with D-league scrubs), the game at Oklahoma City (...) that was without Durant and J. Green etc etc

So our precedents are not exactly good, rather the opposite !! so you are completely correct.

I don't say I have a bad feeling, I expect a win tonight but it won't be easy.

If it will be a blowout, I'll gladly hear the "it's just cuz they were without their best players" comments by negadelphians...

I doubt anyone would complain about a Philly win, regardless of if it is ugly (except Orlando fans saying they were jobbed.)

I don't think there has been a 'negadelphia' problem with Sixer fans. The team is average and most fans treat them like that.

Negadelphia presumes people actually care... The bigger issue with the Sixers is a complete lack of fan interest. Not only can't the come close to selling out games, but there is no buzz about this team. People talk more to me about the Eagles draft or even an April Phillies game... its like the playoffs are not even happening. I wonder what the TV rating have been?

I would love to see this team get to the second round- maybe that would spark to city interest in the team?

you are probably right tk, for me from here it's difficult to judge but I was honestly shocked by attendance numbers, it was a big disappointment

this team, even with its clar flaws, deserves more attention

in the second round we will probably get more :-)

All thoughts are on the mark, IMO. Tom, do you think they will use Speights alot tonite. I think it would be a great move, experience and match would be perfect!

Line is at 5.5/6(6 for bodog) now.

With Lee out, I think this line is fitting. JJ might be bad enough for Willie or Lou to outproduce. Maybe. Granted Pietrus will start, but my hopes are that JJ sees 25+.

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