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I'm surprised to hear you say 5%. I mean, in the past you've seemed to say that the 3-13 start isn't who this team really is or even a real part of who this team really is. (Though not in this post.) If it really were true that we are, at heart, a .600 team, whether that's by massive overachievement, brilliant coaching or an actual reflection of our talent level, I think we'd have a much better shot than 5%. Now, what I think is that the start was a meaningful reflection on our offensive ineptitude, and that, though during that part of the season we were playing below our true abilities, recently we've been playing above our heads, especially on offense and that the average - i.e., our actual record - is what we are. In which case, yeah, we have no chance. But if it's true that it just took some time for Collins's coaching to sink in and that Collins's coaching + this roster = .600 play, then we ought to have something more like a 30% chance. And while I really don't believe that's true, even I think there's something a little odd about our, on the one hand, expecting to win two games, especially against a mentally screwy team like Miami, or perhaps an older and offensively mediocre team in Boston, but being sure that winning 4 is impossible. Really, this team isn't worse, and is probably better (somehow, in spite of losing Dalembert), than the teams that lost to Orlando and Detroit, and it's hard to look back at those series and say that they were sure losses. If we finish strong, I think I'd give us something more like 10-15% odds.

You used an awful lot of words when you could've just said if I was buying into things, which I'm not, I'd give them 5 or 10% more of a chance than you did.

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Tray reply to Brian on Mar 16 at 2:58
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So then, you're not buying into things and you think that this is just another .500 post-Iverson Sixers team (albeit a younger one than past .500 Sixers teams)? I thought that in the past, when I'd pointed out that in all the non-EJ-coached Sixers teams since Iverson left, there had been a similar extended stretch of .600 play, it was your view that this stretch was more of an accurate barometer than previous similar stretches.

What I'm saying is that what they do from here on out, in the regular season and the playoffs, is going to define if that's what they are or not.

Well the reason we look bad is because Brand is playing at a lower level. I mean with all due respect to Iguodala and his fine year, this whole season has been about Brand's return to form as a good power forward in the league. His steady production was what this group relied on, so if he starts pulling this 3 rebounds in forty minutes stuff again then these are the type of results we will see. He needs to get it in gear and quick or the Sixers are in a lot of trouble. Also better hope they can draw Miami or Boston in the playoffs, if they end up playing a healthy Bulls team they probably won't crack 90 in the series.

All three of the top three are very, very good defensive teams. Cracking 90 isn't a guarantee against any of them.

Brand has been pretty consistent throughout the year, but they haven't really ridden him much at all. It's basically an efficient 15 most nights, and they've gotten by in plenty of games where he didn't give them that. This lull is more about the defense to me, anyway. They haven't taken a single thing away from either the Bucks or the Jazz, and that just can't happen. You have to be able to stop something, even if it leaves you a little weaker in another area. The offense is going to be up and down, that's something you can pretty much count on, the defense needs to be there all the time.

I would think that this city should be pleased with this team if they can finish over .500 considering where they finished last season.

I also think Collins has accomplished some of the goals that he laid out at the beginning of the year. It's becoming true of what he said that these would be the toughest stretch of games during the season. Collins is going to really have to push this team to stay focused.

As much as we like to bash our offense which was never a strength of any Sixer team that i can remember, i think defense is to blame for the poor play over the last few games. The only reason that i am actually concerned with this is because of the "tiredness" factor mentioned by Collins in the media. When you are tired the first thing that slips is the defensive effort and i think that's what happened to them, which is why i am worried that it might continue.

As for the offense, i think any team (including contenders) faces slumps on offense during the course of the season, so i am not as worried about that. Actually i read somewhere (before or after the Boston game) the Sixers had the 4th best offense since February 1st (i think that was the span), so you might consider this a slight regression to the mean. In fact i think the one thing that separates this years team to the 2008 and 2009 teams is that it's better in the half court. Those teams had terrible spacing and Andre Miller was the only one who did anything in half court.

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Tom Moore on Mar 16 at 9:08
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Sixers hoping to clip LA's wings:

http://ow.ly/4fAF6

They can do exactly what they did the two seasons prior to the last and nothing much will change about this franchise. More of the same.

Exactly. They aren't any better off than they were two years ago at this time. It's just last year they were so terrible. Is it successful to return to a first round loss? Is it successful to be leaning on Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks (bench guys) as opposed to willie green?

Great they'll make the playoffs and lose in the first round (I think 5% is high), and as of today they'd play the Celtics, the Bulls took a 1/2 game lead last night in the race for eastern conference home court. That's the team everyone 'wants' (though I have no idea why, personally, I'd rather they lose in the first round against the future dominant powers of the east, not the almost done one, so the ownership sess where they truly are and aren't)

The 5 seed, while achievable I don't think was realistic, maybe a 15% chance at best going into this week. The 6 seed would probably be out of reach but the knicks have decided that the pacers have new york kryptonite.

I think Brand is more hobbled than he's saying, Iguodala is now injured and Jrue seems lost in the fog. I have no confidence they'll win more than one game on the rest of this road trip, and tonight ain't it. A team with a big man of substance against the sixers, that spells bad things since the sixers big man defense is non existent.

Well, you're taking the question and calling it an answer. If they limp to the finish then fade meekly into the night, then this is a fair statement, but the season isn't over yet. If they can turn these two games into a blip, and get back to the basketball they were playing as of less than a week ago, then maybe we've seen some real growth out of this team, and there's something of substance there. The story hasn't been written yet, but things don't look too good coming off the MIL and UTA performances.

I think I've been pretty constant in my assertion that they aren't much better off than they were two years ago, the last couple weeks haven't changed my mind one way or another. The last two games have just shown me that they still don't have that 'swagger' (can't think of a better word) to put away the teams they should. To give that 48 minutes of effort (or even 24 for gods sake) you need to put away bad teams.

And like I said, don't expect them to win tonight either, but wouldn't be surprised to see a hell of an audition from DJ

By the way Brian, I never wrote that monthly thing I meant to (maybe Friday, I have the day off) but I believe the sixers offensive performance has improved month by month, as well as defense.

While I hear what people are saying, in pointing out the similarities between the current team and the Sixers from two years ago and the year before, but we aren't exactly the same now. Right now we have a much higher ceiling than the team did in those previous seasons. In those seasons we had Andre Miller, a good PG but an older PG who wasn't going to get better. Now we have Holiday who is a 20 year old PG and looks to have some serious potential. I also have not given up on Evan Turner and believe he still has enough potential that the ceiling for this team is higher than the ceiling for previous Sixer squads. We just aren't there yet.

The fate of this franchise will depend on how we handle the end of Brand's contract and how our young players improve by the time Brand's deal ends. If we make the most of it we can put ourselves on a different track, and hopefully push past just being consistantly mediocre.

What I find interesting is that when everyone says the sixers are 'better' than they were two years ago they point at Jrue Holiday (who is still an unfinished product who we all hope will continue to progress but looks terrible these days), and yet they ignore the other 'elephant' in the room.

Two years ago the sixers had one of the best defensive centers in the game, and now they have Spencer Hawes who is one of the worst starting centers (at both ends of the court) in the game.

And they still have neither the assets nor financial resources to plug holes in free agency.

They aren't any better or worse off than they were 2 years ago (oh yeah, Elton Brand is two years older and Thaddeus Young is a power forward) they're just screwed in different places.

2 years ago the upside was Thaddeus Young (and you hoped Mareese Speights). This time it's Holiday and turner.

I don't think they're better or worse off than 2 years ago, they're 'the same' off, just in different positions.

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Scott reply to GoSixers on Mar 16 at 12:08
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I think Holiday and Turner have more potential now than Yound and Speights did a couple years ago. I think this is where we differ in opinion. I also realize that we are now headed toward the eventual end of Brand's contract, and for that reason I am optimistic we can change course for the better. When we signed Brand, if he came to the sixers and was the player the Sixer's FO thought he would be, we would have had a chance to be something better than mediocre. When Brand's contract ends we'll have another opportunity to make a signficant change. I don't think we'll be in a position to bring in the top FA of the summer, but we will be able to redirect the course of the franchise. Considering my view of Holiday and Tuner's potential, I also think we'll be in a position where we have more talent on the roster when Brand's deal ends, than we did back when we originally signed Brand.

How are the sixers going to add that talent? Where are they going to find a center? A power forward? A bench guy who can do something aside from score.

In two years when Brands contract is up Iguodala is also two years older.

Two years ago the future had issues, now the future has issues, different positions but the same issues, gaping holes at two positions.

Do you believe Evan Turner can be a starting 2 with Iguodala and Holiday in the NBA? I"m not sure I do any more

Here's the point I'm trying to make

2 years ago they lost in the first round, had some holes, and got lucky in the lottery.

They now have new holes (and many of the same holes) with an older brand, and an aging Iguodala, and less availability on how to fix it, it's great that evan turner and jrue will grow, but you need a front court to win, the sixers front court right now is weak and soft, as brand gets older, how does it get better?

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Scott reply to GoSixers on Mar 16 at 12:39
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They fix it by putting themselves in a position to add talent. Every team that has added talent recently hasn't just made some amazing FO move to pick up a quality player. First they signed players to contracts that allowed them to be in a position to add talent when it became possible to do so. I understand we have gaping holes on our squad, but we also have some good young pieces and will eventually have a major contract expire. What I'm saying is, we use the talent we have now and make the best of the transition when Brand's contract ends and that's our opportunity to be more than mediocre. We use the end of Brand's contract to position ourselves to add talent to the front court as soon as possible. It may not be right away, but we put ourselves in a position to make it happen. Fortunately, Jrue is young enough that we can do this.

I don't see us being more than mediocre until Brand's contract is done, but when it does end we will have an opportunity and as a fan I'm hoping we will make the most of it.

They aren't in a position to add talent.

And this magical 'two years' away thing is great and all, except Thad is due an extension, Jrue will be due an extension by then and it'll be a much more restrictive cap and salary structure, I don't exaclty how but it will be.

Dumb Luck (either lottery or gm's looking to dump a greeat player for pennies on the dollar) are the sixers only legitimate hope. There's too many better free agent destinations to make Philly a draw unless it's about caish.

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Tray reply to Scott on Mar 16 at 13:36
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"I think Holiday and Turner have more potential now than Yound and Speights did a couple years ago."

I think that Holiday and Turner have more potential than Young and Speights have proven to have (or at least, appear they have). But in Thad's rookie season, the feeling was that the sky was the limit for him. At the start of his second season, when he was draining threes and scoring in the 20s with regularity, we thought he'd become a star small forward. And Speights, it seemed, could one day become a pretty efficient volume scorer in the post, and his defense was going to be okay enough where you could actually play him enough minutes so he could do that. Now, I guess I think that Jrue and Turner will develop more than Thad and Speights have so far. But the reality of young players is that improvement is never certain.

Sixers- always two years from being a year away.

Just farther away than most people think (I believe) and not 'one piece away' either. Just a lot of needs plus a lot of things have to go right.

The Eddie Jordan Halo Affect (effect? Hate those words)

That was a really good analysis of Jrue's problems on defense. Now that I think about it, Jrue does seem to have more problems recovering after a pick than when he is attacked straight on (although he has recently had some problems with that too). And to be fair, the Sixers haven't had any guards in recent years who fight through picks well (Willie and Lou are well-known for getting "glued" to picks), except possibly Andre Miller.

There were two points the author didn't cover, though. First, it's not just elite point guards that Jrue struggles with, it's all point guards (unless you call players like Will Bynum and D.J. Augustin elite). As the author notes, unless Jrue can go completely under the screen (e.g., with Rondo), he often loses his man and can't recover -- so he winds up going under the screen anyway and giving up open 3's (this is what happened with Lowry over and over in that Houston game). Second, the author didn't mention Jrue's tendency to forget where his man is (I think of this as the "Mike Bibby phenomenon," since Jrue has gotten regularly torched by Mike Bibby, whom he should be able to guard on one leg).

It's good that the author talks about this in the context of Jrue's defensive potential, because that is what had gotten me most excited about his play last year, his flashes of defensive greatness.

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tk76 reply to Statman on Mar 16 at 14:26
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I've mentioned before that the Sixerslack a PG on their coaching staff. A glaring omission when you consider how important Jrue is for the teams future.

And Gary Payton is still waiting for an NBA job...

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Rich reply to Statman on Mar 16 at 14:34
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Yeah, that's a spot-on analysis you have. I'd like to add in Chauncey Billups to that mix as well on the Bibby phenomenon.

They are pretty concerning mistakes, but they seem to be team-related. I'm wondering if part of Jrue's subpar defense has anything to do with Collins' scheme defensively, because they try to run guys off the three point line. Maybe that's why guys are getting to the rim on him? That doesn't really hold though.

It's just weird that a guy with his tools is struggling this much on defense. Part of me thinks that he would have been even greater with the old hand-checking rules.


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