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If a Team Plays Horrible Defense

JohnMagee on Nov 10 at 10:41

I'm at a loss to explain how the sixers seem to be a better team (by far) with Brand on the floor than off...

Defensive rebounding rate has a lot to do with it, 78.5% w/ Brand on the floor, 63.9% with him on the bench.

That's a byproduct of the lineups they've used when Brand is on the bench, either small lineups or Speights/Smith up front.

I am at a loss of what our coach is thinking. My opinion of him is dropping very fast. Why would you play Willie Green over Jrue ANY DAY, ANY TIME, ANY WHERE? I am starting to understand why the Wizards fired him.

Brian, I am becoming very much like your blog with the sixers. Depressed.

JohnMagee reply to DeanH on Nov 10 at 11:02

Willie I just accept - he's an evil that will never die, like Rush Limbaugh, but it's Royal ivey over Holliday that's been driving me crazy.

I didn't see the game last night but following the thread this morning through Brians comments it seemed obvious that Jordan still had some trust issues with HOlliday and was pulling him at the wrong time.

Man, what a crappy second half they had

JohnMagee on Nov 10 at 10:54

Except the sixers are a better defensive rebounding team when Speights is on the floor.

And worse when Sam is on the floor.

Seriously - Sams minutes are headed in the right direction (he should average no more than 20 MPG in my opinion) but there's a 'cache' to being a starter, and I think Speights has earned it. At this point speights has earned a lot more in this 7 games this season than Sam has 'earned' most of his career.

Speights has been excellent, more than anyone could've expected so far, but there's a body of work w/ sammy on the boards. I'd be wary of buying into those numbers at 82games.com after 6 games (they haven't included last night's games yet).

I think Speights has earned the starter's role right now, and if he can give the effort he's giving now on the defensive end throughout the season, I think a starting five of Speights, Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Lou could be damned effective, I'm just not seeing the team as a whole taking advantage of mismatches, and the team philosophy on defense needs to be completely thrown out.

JohnMagee reply to Brian on Nov 10 at 11:05

Brian, remember that in my case I'm usually looking past this season and towards the future when this team should be contending and I believe the starters for the contending sixers involve Holliday and Speights (and since the sixers have supposedly been trying to move sam for almost a year, they don't see him as part of the future either) I think it's time to shove Speights into the 'starter' role which raises expectations regardless of minutes and see what happens.

I don't buy into the 'if you bench sam you lower his trade value' because A. They haven't been able to get squat for him yet and B. I don't think that many GMs are that stupid to not know what Sam does and eosn't bring nightly.

I don't share your faith in the GMs around the league, but regardless of that, I'd never start someone simply to increase their trade value. I would start Speights now, but Sam is an important part of the rotation as well. That was my only point.

JohnMagee reply to Brian on Nov 10 at 11:30

I didn't say don't play him, I just said he should averaged no more than 20 MPG (if that) and speights should get time at 4 and 5 as well :)

I think sam has value but only in certain spots his offense is SO BAD that he breaks the teams flow offensively.

How many times do you think this has happened in the past 5 years?

Sam and Willie tied for the team lead in assists last night (3).

JohnMagee reply to Brian on Nov 10 at 11:43

That's just so pathetic on so many levels...

Seriously, I know the coach is just trying to figure out what he's got, but holy smokes, this team is god awful to watch. How you cam take some of the best one on one defenders in the league, who've had recent success in the NBA, combined with a couple of the best off the ball shot blockers, and somehow coach them into sucking is beyond me. Sorry Randy Ayers......you stink.....our perimeter defense has actually gotten worse over the course of 7 games. If we're installing a new offense, maybe we should let the boys play some instinctual man to man defense to give them a break from thinking. Thinking is slow. Especially in the NBA.

'Nonsensical' doesn't do these rotations justice, either. I expect grumbings as well. And maybe rightly so....Brand should be playing. Holiday should be playing. Mix in a LITTLE Kapono, a little Carney......Speights and Smith and Dalambert get the rest. Enought Bill Green. Enough Ivey. He's Holiday with less size and worse offense.

2 things...

1) I was surprised to see Carney on the floor during important minutes at the end of the game last night. I like how he isn't afraid to drive the lane and get fouled. A lot of times when our offense struggles we end up settling for low percentage jumpers. I wish Iguodala would just take it to the rim and get fouled at these points in the game, but he doesn't. Rodney Carney seems to be willing to do that, though, and as a result I'm ok with seeing him on the floor more.

2) Brian, above you mentioned looking past this season to our future. I'm curious if you saw the Ford/Hollinger Future Power Rankings on ESPN.com (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?page=FuturePowerRankings-4-091110). I'm not surprised we're ranked low because of our financial future, but I thought our young core would get a little more respect. I'm curious what you think about the rank, or what if any moves we could make to prove Ford and Hollinger wrong?

JohnMagee reply to Scott on Nov 10 at 12:14

That's an inside article so we can't all access but if I had to guess - they worry about the make up - and Holliday hasn't played enough to convinced anyone of anything yet. HOllinger is very Pro Speights, but not sure if Ford is - plus the sixers bench really is terrible - i mean long term lou is back on the bench but it's still pretty bad

Plus if you're projecting future, the sixers are stuck in the 'middle' come draft time, not bad enough in the lottery but not good enough to contend for a title...hard to get out of really

Yeah, I read that and I even started writing a rant in response, then I thought about the basketball and coaching I've seen over the past two weeks and I couldn't muster the needed outrage.

Our players belong higher on that list, as for the rest of it, I can't argue.

For those of you who don't have ESPN Insider access, they rank us as the 19th best franchise over the three years following this one. Our players ranked as the 11th best core.

As for moves that could improve the ranking, I'm not sure. Finding a way to move Green and Dalembert for expiring deals would be a good start, but that's virtually impossible.

Any significant move this team is going to make will have to involve at least one player of the young core, probably Speights or Thad.

Seeing Holiday play last night made me more frustrated he has not gotten minutes (in place of Ivey.) I did not think Holiday was ready to play at that level- he really was impressive out there on both ends.

Couldn't agree more.

I was so outraged last night on the way home. Total incopentency of coaching. Lou (not criticizing Lou here) took 3 shots for 3 points and missed all 3. And, guess what, Jrue and Kapono were on the bench? What amazing, incompentent coaching. So frustrating and DEPRESSING as a FAN.

Hopefully someone really tears into Lou for the reemergence of the Old Lou. I think it was just a temporary sighting, though. I think he panicked & decided he could tie the game, screw the shot clock.

Also, I did not like signing Jordan from the beginning, but I thought Stefanski had made such positive, correct, and much needed changes I was willing to believe in him. I'm already done (with Jordan, that is). Head Coach Aaron McKie, anyone?

JohnMagee reply to will on Nov 10 at 13:27

You mean the aaron mckie with absolutely no head coaching experience and only two years of assistant coach experience?

No, thanks though

Jordan isn't going anywhere, not for a long, long time. If he goes, that means Stefanski is already gone and the team will probably be sold for spare parts. They just signed him, I don't see any way they eat his contract. He's got a ton of rope.

It seems to me that there just aren't that many really good basketball coaches around. The great college coaches are wary of giving up their cushy campus life to come to the pros, where they would have to surrender power to their players. They have seen their brethren try it and fall on their faces. It's why Larry Brown will always have a job if he wants one, despite the fact that owners KNOW he cannot be counted on to stick around.

I did not think much of EJ before the Sixers hired him, and I think even less of him now. But I was also hard-pressed to name any better available candidates. I don't see anyone else out there who would do much better...

JohnMagee reply to Vaughn on Nov 10 at 14:28

I think this is an incorrect statement...there aren't many ESTABLISHED basketball coaches looking for jobs...but i'm sure there are a lot of guys out there who would make good coaches if people knew how to hire them.

The problem is whenever there is an opening you just get the old same recycled names, I'm sure when GSW finally fires Don Nelson Freaking Lenny Wilkens will probably be the head coach (if he's not dead) - the 'old boys club' in NBA coaches is probably the most ridiculous of any sport - it's always the same guys - that's not because they aren't available it's because it's safer...

You have to see the irony between this comment and your last:

"You mean the aaron mckie with absolutely no head coaching experience and only two years of assistant coach experience?"


There are more experienced assistants out there, though. So I get your point.

JohnMagee reply to Brian on Nov 10 at 14:37

You know i'm talking about a guy who has established a rep, like a tibodeau, or a kuester, guys who have put the time in learning how to coach -just cause you played doesn't mean you can coach (or GM)

Everyone talks about how E Snow would be a great coach but until he gets his ass on a roster, i don't care if it's college, of assistants somewhere i wouldn't touch him as a head coach with a ten foot pole, marc jacksons ego is getting in his way the same way

Brian, I agree and disagree with your comments about Iguodala's game. I agree completely agree that he did a very bad job staying with Richardson on defense. I was surprised at that, because he's usually not the one who over-helps. Part of the over-helping is defensive philosophy, where Jordan subscribes to the "protect the paint" mantra ... but one would think that "protect the paint" needs to be tailored to the opposition -- i.e., a defender guarding a hot 3-point shooter should NOT go help under any circumstances (other than a likely dunk). This points to the problems with Iguodala defending at the 2 that I mentioned last summer: it minimizes a lot of his strengths as a defender, because he's only marginally better than others at fighting through picks (his on-the-ball defense against 2 guards has been exceptional this year, better than I expected -- it was the catch-and-shoot that he didn't defend well last night).

On offense, I disagree that Iguodala could have done better. The Suns' strategy was to let him have jump shots with minimal resistance (he hit a good amount of those) and challenge without fouling when he drove the lane. In the 4th quarter, he took no jump shots at all: his shots were (1) missed lay-up and made follow-up, (2) 4-ft scoop shot off penetration. Every other time he penetrated, he was doubled, and he made the correct pass to the open man. Unfortunately, the open man was Lou. Now, Iguodala may have been able to force contact and draw fouls, but I have to think passing to the open man was the right play (though it was a cold man).

I also disagree that Brand had a mismatch against whoever was guarding him. He looked good on one jumper in the lane, but his other baskets were: dunk off a steal, dunk off a nice pass from Dalembert, lay-up (after 3 pump fakes) off a nice pass from Dalembert. He missed all his other attempts (3 jumpers and a lay-up), and none of his attempts (that I can remember) came after he created his own post shot. Nor do I remember that he forced any double teams and successfully passed out of them (he's rarely done that at all since he's become a Sixer). My opinion only: over Brand's Sixer career, one of the LEAST efficient plays for the Sixers in the halfcourt is "dump it into Brand." I read from Deep Sixer that there's a little friction developing between Brand and Iguodala, and part of it has to do with Brand's thinking he's still a go-to guy when he really isn't.

If there's one positive for the Sixers' offense (other than the obvious good shooting by Iguodala and Speights), it's that Thad and Willie didn't settle for jumpers but took it to the basket aggressively and got foul shots. I wouldn't mind seeing more of the Willie Green we've seen the past couple games (not the 3-point gunner Willie). I just wish Thad could dribble without traveling half the time.

Good points on Iguodala in the fourth quarter, it was the Detroit game that he started gunning threes late, this time he made the pass.

As for Brand, early in the first quarter was really the only time they gave him the ball in the past, he had Frye on him. He backed him into the lane with one or two dribbles, then the double came late from the baseline, but Brand was already into his shot, a left hook spinning toward the baseline that he hit. Pretty move.

The previous game, he got the ball on the block down there once, I believe, he backed his man into the paint and drew a foul.

They simply refuse to go to it. Literally, those are the only two times I can remember from the past two games where he got the ball with his back to the basket. Whether or not he's an elite guy down there anymore is up for interpretation, but what I don't think is up for interpretation is that he is not an elite guy when he gets the ball facing the basket further than 18 feet away from the hoop, and that's what Jordan has reduced him to in this offense.

Forgetting Brand, for a second, there's a larger trend with the offense that bothers me. The Sixers size and athleticism creates mismatches quite frequently, sometimes it's Brand sometimes Iguodala (like when he backed Stuckey down all the way to the hoop), once in a while they'll go to that mismatch, but they never follow it up. They never punish teams and force them to adjust. Instead of Detroit having to go bigger at the guards, or double Iguodala immediately, they were allowed to play to their comfort level because that play was only called once.

I read that blurb about Brand staring Iguodala down after Iguodala failed to get him the ball in the post. Not a good sign at all. I don't know, maybe there just isn't a place for back-to-the-basket, low post play in the PO. Sure would've been nice if Jordan mentioned that in his 3-hour chalkboard interview.

Thanks for the comment, as usual, your insight is appreciated.

JohnMagee on Nov 11 at 12:01

They simply refuse to go to it,

Not just brand, remember the Detroit game and Iguodala, he has size advantage over most of their guards, backed them down once but relaly should have gone to that like every freaking time

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