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Hip, Hip...

Brand was a beast tonight and he looked more explosive than I have ever seen him in a 76er uniform. Signaling his return though? Here's my problem and why I can't even come close to say he's almost back. His jumper flat out stinks. Take a look at this-

Scroll to EB's shot chart and look at how bad he was shooting from any sort of distance. A lot of those looks were very open and he really isn't coming too close on them. He shot 8-17 tonight. From outside of the lane, he was 0-7. Sheesh! If he is even average with them and he makes the 9 footer, we're talking about a 27 and 11 with 6 blocks 2 assists and 3 steals and 12-17 shooting! That's only making half of your open looks from 15 feet and in (minus the dunks). This could have been an absolutely monster game.

If we are going to be any good, he has to make those shots at a reasonable rate. He won't always look as explosive as tonight because: a. He won't always get Boris Diaw as a match-up albeit Charlotte is a very good defensive team and b. He's not always going to be this explosive EVERY night and we can't expect that.

So please, EB, take some pressure of those kneees and shoot the ball a little better. You'll be soooo effective.

This is more of an honest question than a disagreement, but as far a skill is concerned, would touch on your jumper be the last thing to come back to you after basically a two-year layoff?

Take a look at his eFG on jumpers in his last full season. 47% is sick for a big. Actually, it's pretty much sick for anyone, especially someone who doesn't shoot threes (the number is boosted by threes).

Go back to your post again, if he hits half of those jumpers, we're talking about a vintage Brand game from back in the day. Check out his game log from 06-07, I count like 10 games with 20+ points, 10+ boards, and 4+ blocks. He had 4 games at that level in one playoff series the year before that.

Jesus, I hope this wasn't a blip.

Rich reply to Brian on Nov 19 at 3:34

No doubt. The touch on my jumper deteriorated every time I didn't pick up a ball for a few days when I played, but I'm not Elton Brand so I don't know what he's like. I feel like his rhythm should be back now that he's been in a routine since September working out. I'm sure he shot a lot of jumpers in the summer, but you watch the games and know something is off. I bet you cringe every once in a while after an ugly miss on a jumper from Brand. He just doesn't look confident, even last year I thought he looked better shooting-wise when he was open (Stats could shut me up on that though).

My whole thing is that just like we have been saying, this game is a masterpiece and a vintage Brand performance if he is just average from there. He's not though. I know it was there at one point in his career. The Suns had no answer for him in that playoff series when he killed the Suns in every way possible, including shooting that mid-range jumper. Read the book "Seven Seconds or Less" if you haven't and Mike D'Antoni will tell you what a monster he was.

I don't know if he ever will completely be as explosive (90 percent would be fine) as long as he can shoot it like he did back before he got hurt.

Rich reply to Rich on Nov 19 at 3:41

*as long as he can shoot it well from 15 ft. before he got hurt, he will be fine.

deepsixersuede reply to Rich on Nov 19 at 7:26

He probably isn!t used to shooting it from that high up,its looked flat and the added hops last night may allow for a slight adjustment. Brian,win/lose or draw that game was the high point by far of this year for me.The 20/10 stuff aside, he showed the main two things this team lacks that he can give, toughness and a willingness to defend.If Jrue starts getting consistant minutes and Carney the same, the defenders may win over the non-defenders on this team and get us above average ,in spite of the coaches philosophy.The next game may tell us a lot about his bounceback ability going against a very good rebounding team [Memphis].

EB is quite a rare type of player in the league. Extremely professional, with a huge work ethic and an acceptably high basketball IQ. The sixers do not have too many players like him in the roster. So let's be patient and hope he will fully recover.

Rob_STC reply to apfan on Nov 19 at 7:27

Well said.

A few observations for this game:
(1) As unimpressive victories go, this was still a better win than either Nets game. I got the feeling that the Sixers took this game with good plays, rather than escaping with the win solely because of the ineptitude of the opposition.

(2) What was most impressive about Brand was that he was able to finish around the rim. As Rich noted, he only had one basket outside 2 feet, but he was pretty effective at putbacks and finishes off others' penetration [most impressive was the running slam off Lou's feed]. He's still not a go-to guy who can get and make his shot consistently, and I hope this game doesn't mislead Jordan into thinking otherwise.

(3) Carney was a revelation, both offensively and defensively. One day after I criticized his [normally horrible] rebounding, he pulled down 7 big defensive rebounds, which [a] matched his season total to that point and [b] tied his career high.

(4) Brian, I understand and agree with what you're saying about Jordan sticking with certain lineups too long, but what substitution would you have made for the five who ended the game? 4 of them were the only 4 players who had good games, and I'm not sure there was a better option than Thad for the 5th.

(5) On a related note, I agree with your trepidation, Brian, at leaving Lou in when the team needs a defensive stop, but I'm not a big proponent of bringing in somebody cold in that situation. Ivey was a possibility, but his type of D might have increased the likelihood of a foul. A big lineup [Carney and AI9 at guards] would have created mismatches at all the frontcourt positions [worst of all, Thad vs. Jackson]. The game-ending lineup did a decent job on defense: they gave up 4 offensive rebounds [to their 5 def. rebounds], but they also forced 3 turnovers and got 7 stops out of 11 possessions, by my count.

(6) Regarding Holiday, I see his defensive potential, but it hasn't translated to actual performance yet. His opponent PER at 82games.com [albeit in very limited minutes] is 30.6, which is worse by a large margin than the bottom of the entire NBA among regular players last year [around 23]. While most of his time has been meaningless, his 4-minute stint in the 3rd/4th quarters of the Bulls game was what turned that game from a close, winnable game to a blowout loss. [They went from up 2 to down 10, and his man, Hinrich, scored 7 of the Bulls' 17 in that time.] I'm all for playing Holiday in low-pressure situations, but he needs to show more to be put in when it matters.

(7) Thad played a really soft game tonight, even for him. He had a couple opportunities to finish but didn't because he looked to be avoiding contact. Gerald Wallace is a physical defender, and Thad needs to match that physicality in future meetings.

(8) It's becoming clear that the Sixers will need to spot Kapono when there's somebody he can guard. I could be mistaken, but I think I actually saw Stephen Jackson salivating when Kapono came in.

Thanks for the analysis, a few reactions:

If you need a stop, I'd go with Dalembert, Brand, Carney, Iguodala, Ivey. That's your best defensive lineup right now, hands down. Cold or not. We're talking about one possession, CHA didn't need a three, all they needed to score. We needed a stop and a defensive rebound. Thad and Lou should not have been on the floor in that situation.

As for Jrue, I had him guarding Hinrich for the final 2:58 of the third (Hinrich hit a three when Jrue first came in, did nothing after that), then he switched over to Rose when he came into the game to start the fourth. Rose scored once on a move into the lane, tried it again and Jrue defended it beautifully, forced the miss and grabbed the rebound. Hinrich scored 4 more points when someone else was guarding him in the 4th (it may have even been Kapono).

I agree that I'd like to see Jrue play more before I trust him with crucial minutes, but the problem right now is that we aren't seeing him at any time.

For example, last night the Sixers were up by 7 to start the second quarter, Jordan went with a back court of Ivey and Green. This would've been a perfect opportunity to get Jrue low-pressure minutes, with two starters on the floor. Meaningful minutes, but it's not like he'd be coming in when the tide of the game had already turned, like in the Chicago game (Chicago came back from down 9 and actually took the lead in the minutes before Jrue came into that game).

Those numbers from 82 games are alarming, but I don't think they're indicative of what I've seen from him. Off-the-ball, he's lost his man a couple of times (Eddie House being the best example), but on-the-ball, I believe he's our best option at the point right now. He picks players up in the back court, or just as they cross the time line. He move his feet, cuts off penetration, constantly pokes at the ball, looking for turnovers. He fights over picks, or quickly bounces below, doesn't get hung up. The fundamentals and the mentality are there, or they seem to be, but we need to see more of him. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon.

Statman reply to Brian on Nov 19 at 12:31

If you need a stop, I'd go with Dalembert, Brand, Carney, Iguodala, Ivey. Can't argue with this lineup in general, but remember, Charlotte was using a small lineup. Would you have felt comfortable with Dalembert on Diaw and Brand on Wallace? As it was, in two must-stop situations, the lineup they used forced a 3 by a 25% shooter (Diaw), got a rebound, and got a turnover, so the results were decent. In the last possession, Charlotte had 3 seconds left, so rebounding was less an issue than challenging the shot.

I did notice the Sixers picked up several "team" defensive rebounds in this game where one guy tipped it to another, so maybe [probably] they won't be so lucky in the future with a Thad/Carney forward combo.

[re: Holiday] Off-the-ball, he's lost his man a couple of times (Eddie House being the best example), but on-the-ball, I believe he's our best option at the point right now. If it's a straight-up isolation play, I'd agree. If there's a pick involved and he has to rotate, I haven't always seen him go to the right man. Sometimes he's fighting to stay with his man when the other defender has already switched, leaving a wide-open jumper for the guy who set the pick. All this will improve with more experience [unless you're Lou, and it never improves]. I definitely think Holiday should have seen more time in the 4th quarter of the Jazz game.

I was talking about the possession w/ 30 seconds left, not the final possession where they needed a three. In the scenario you give, I'd feel more comfortable with Brand on Wallace than Thad. Wallace manhandled Thad and I'm actually shocked Brown didn't go to it more often.

While i was waiting for my wife in front of the bath room last night i saw Stefanski rolling down the concourse. I called out, "hey Ed", and he stopped, shook my hand and we chatted for a few minutes. I said, "ed, don't blow it up, we have time" and he said, there is no way he is trading any of the kids. I told him to play Jrue and he said, you know me. We played Thad, we played Speights we are gong to play Jrue, you just need to give me some time. Then he said, how about elton brand, this was at the end of the first half, and i said, yeah, if he can find the range on his jumper 18 and 9 is real and that is pretty much what you paid for. He fist bumped me and rolled.

Really approachable cool guy. I actually feel better about the whole thing. Let's get the fan bandwagon rolling on the free Jrue express and realize that we are just really young. Even Lou is 23 for pete's sake. Thad will figure it out and after last night, maybe Speights going down is exactly what Brand needed to get going. We are still bad, but as long as i see a plan and development, i am cool.

Awesome. I hope that means he's going to ride Jordan's ass until he starts giving Jrue minutes :)

Obviously the odds are heavily in favor of this being a blip. A great player in decline continues to have a great game once in a while; this was even true of Jordan on the Wizards.

Assuming he's actually in decline. 30 is a bit early for that, for most great players.

Tray reply to Brian on Nov 19 at 19:56

Well, he was bad last year and up until last game had looked bad so far this year. You can point to the injuries and surgeries, but I just can't think of many big men historically who (a) look really bad for quite a while after returning from surgery, and (b) eventually shake all that off and return to form. Usually it's the case that either you recover or you don't.

JohnMagee reply to Tray on Nov 19 at 20:56

I think people were ready to write him off as a matter of small sample size...he's coming off two major injuries and like less than 41 games in the past 2 seasons and yet everyone assumes he's done...it takes some time to play yourself back into game shape regardless of training camp - and when you'e coach is a moron it's even harder to be ready to play in the fourth quarter if your coach thinks you can't play in the fourth quarter.

How can Jordan remain so oblivious to these +/- stats? WTF! This is driving me freaking crazy.

Here's a highlight from Hollinger's chat today:

Jrue Holliday (philly) - I'm better than willie green and royal ivey at both ends of the court right now and I'm supposed to be the future point guard of the sixers. Why am I not getting more playing time than willie and royal?

John Hollinger - I thought we discussed this already -- Willie Green has compromising photos of the Sixers owners. It's the only explanation. Coaches and management changes, but somehow he always ends up with a prominent role in the rotation for no apparent reason. Now they're even using him as the backup point guard.

JohnMagee reply to Brian on Nov 19 at 14:38

Dudes stealing my material

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