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We Meet Again

I think the game starts at 8 PM EST, not 7 PM.

Boston and NY both lost last night, so it'd be really nice if the Sixers could take advantage of that and pick up a win here to end the losing streak.

Before the TWolves game, I said that I just wanted to see the Sixers play better more than I cared about actually winning. Obviously I wanted them to win, but I was also looking for improvement in their play. And I think I saw some of that - at least in certain players. I like how Jrue appeared to be more aggressive in attacking the rim and not settling for long 2s as much as he was. So while the improvement that I saw was nice, it's time to win. Some people will say that the Sixers CAN'T win close games, but I don't believe that's true... it's just that they HAVEN'T been winning many close games.

Here's hoping for a W tonight.

Oh, and it's about time we all take a lot at this:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-14Bv_6fs9UM/Tw5Ip9TgF0I/AAAAAAAABvc/y2ryfTvLMMc/s1600/mempis.jpg

Time is fixed.

Thanks for catching that.

nice to hear that there was evidence of a more aggressive Jrue on offense vs. MN...didn't catch that game.

What's interesting about Speights recent hot streak is most of his attempts lately have been coming in the paint, both off pick and rolls and teammates penetration and his man leaving to provide help. If he keeps taking those shots, he can impact a game. I don't expect him to keep playing like that, but he's always had the potential to play well in that role.

I missed the MN game, and am sorta glad I did because it must have been excruciating to watch that loss unfold in realtime.

Nice that Jrue broke out of his scoring slump, even though his numbers weren't great, as Brian has covered...10/20 for 20, no FTs, 0/3 from 3. Even more encouraging were the quotes from Collins in today's Inky, encouraging Jrue to attack early in games. Also encouraging is only 1 TO against MN, but I gather it came at a most inopportune time.

I was at the Dallas game, and Jrue had a horseshit game. 0/9 from the field. Got all his points at the line on 3/4 FT...both times he got to the line it seemed like he was quite deliberately trying to draw contact, knowing that was his best chance on that night of any kind of offensive production. Something we need to see more of from Jrue-he is an 80%FT shooter and he needs to hone the ability to drive and draw contact at key points...say, when the Sixers hold the lead but the other team is on a run...get to the line, get two easy points, slow the momentum!

After watching the Dallas implosion in person I was very troubled at the state of the team, and Jrue in particular. He had been so horrible vs. Orlando, with I think 5 turns to go along with a dreadful offensive performance. Got the quick hook from Collins which has been fairly uncommon this season. I hoped we'd see a bounceback against Dallas, and that maybe Jrue would take advantage of his matchup with the older, slower Kidd, but it didn't materialize. He looked rattled, did not play with any confidence. Thought crossed my mind that perhaps we were starting to see early signs of diminishing returns from the Collins style...it's been said over and over that his teams burn out on him after awhile, and that has trouble bringing along young players. Seeing Jrue look like a shell of himself on Friday night, lacking confidence after coach had come down on him hard the previous game(ORL game was one of only 3, by my count, where Jrue played less than 30 min-other two were blowout Sixer wins)-combined with the disappearance of Evan Turner, who looked to my eyes to be much improved in a lot of the early part of the season, and perhaps on the verge of breaking through as a consistent two way contributor and starting to fulfill his promise...had a sensational game @ATL...but since then his minutes are down and his production is back to 2010-11 rates...

ET first 23 games: 25.8 mpg, 9.7 ppg on .469FG% and 8.5 FGA/pg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 apg

ET last 8: 19 mpg, 5.2 ppg on .352 FG% and 6.7FGA/pg, 2.6 apg, 5.2 rpg

ET logged fewer than 20 minutes three times in the first 23, has logged less than 20 minutes in 4 of the last 8. In Jan, he averaged 26 min, 10.8 ppg on .490FG% and 8.9 FGA/pg, 2.8 apg and 6.4 rpg. In Feb, that is down to 21 mpg, 5.9 ppg on .377FG% and 6.9FGA/gm, 2.7apg and 4.7 rpg

Clearly his play has not been good of late. Vs Dallas on Friday he got decent run, 22 minutes, and got his fair share of look to no avail, going 2/11 from the field. He pulled down 9 boards, however, and always seems most effective when he grabs a defensive board and starts the break, sometimes going end to end and shooting, sometimes springing a teammate. However the ET play that stood out to me was late in the game, when the Sixers were making a feeble effort to close the gap but still had a very decent shot at pulling out a win-off an o-board, ET got the ball inside the foul line, WIDE OPEN. A wide open 8-footer, it's a no brainer-SHOOT!Instead he tentatively starts to raise up, then cops out and dumps it to Thad on the wing for a lower quality look, a missed jumper. He had missed his share of good looks that night, to be sure, but you can't have such low confidence in your shot as to turn down the look he had there. In general, the sense I got from his play that night was a regression-back to last year's Turner, where he didn't look like he belonged in an NBA game for long stretches, where his dribble looked like it could careen out of control at any moment-it just wasn't pretty. Soon after the game got under way I had said to my seatmate that it might be time to think about trading Turner if he can get back something of value...I just don't see him finding success under Doug.
If anyone wants to tell me where I'm wrong on ET or what I'm missing, please, I am all ears. I want the kid to succeed in Philly!I like him as a person, think he comes across as smart funny, someone I wouldn't mind hanging out with. His confidence seems so fragile, however, and I think he needs a coach who is committed to building his confidence and DC isn't that. Not that DC is wrong or that the way he's coached Turner is evidence of some vendetta-I don't buy that. Just may be a case of this coach not being the right coach for ET to work through his early struggles with.

As for Jrue, so much of his game this season has frustrated and perplexed me. Some of the mysterious elements-his affinity for shooting from one or two steps inside the 3pt line, often referred to as the worst shot in basketball, his reluctance to drive and get to the line, his lower assists numbers-seem to have been partially explained through some recent interviews-seems Doug has emphasized avoiding turnovers as paramount-so less driving to the hoop, fewer risky passes and thus fewer assists, etc. And yes, as Brian pointed out in a long post on Jrue not long ago, his defense is much improved and stats reflect that. I have a lot more faith in the DC-Jrue coaching relationship than the DC-ET. Seems like Jrue-perhaps because he is younger, just one yr of college playing out of position, as opposed to ET's long and successful career at OSU, he is more receptive to coaching and more eager to please. After 27 games, Jrue was shooting 40% from 3...that is now done to 37%. His jumpshot was not falling at all vs Dallas-he didn't make a single field goal-but also had just 2 assists. He is so important to this offense because he can do so much, even when he isn't having a good night shooting. But he is not utilizing those skills nearly enough. Last year he recorded 15 double doubles. This year, through 32, he has just 1. When he isn't making shots himself, he needs to use his skills to create looks for teammates in order for this offense to be successful.

Last year, EB was a security blanket. Averaged 15 on 51% shooting, dropped 20+ approx 17 times...when we needed a bucket, EB was the guy to find it an awful lot of the time. That production just isn't there this year and it's really missed, especially because only Lou has dramatically stepped up his scoring. Now it seems like when we need a basket, it's Lou we look to. And Lou's game is inherently streaky, unlike Brand's. Against Dallas in that excruciating second half, we kept looking to Lou but for the most part he couldn't produce...teams are game planning for him and even disregarding that, Lou is gonna have his off nights.

I am not hating on Lou Williams. His play has really impressed me this year. He's stepped up as a leader, he is often the only thing keeping us going on the offensive end, and he has been a better passer than ever before.

More offense has to come from somewhere, though, if we are going to to win this division and have a shot at winning a playoff series, and Jrue would seem to be the man-both through his own scoring, and for the capability of a more aggressive posture on his part to create good looks for teammates. He has focused on defense, and on a defensive approach to offense(limiting turnovers) thus far and hit his marks...time for a different emphasis on the second half. Would love nothing more than to see Jrue put up a big second half. Think the team might need it.

Sorry for the long and rambling post...haven't had a chance to post in awhile and wanted to address some of my concerns after witnessing that demoralizing Dallas loss in person...if any of my comments strike a chord, or if you want to point out anything I'm missing, please do so. thik they MUST win 1/2 and I'd really like to go 2/2 heading into the break. And over the break, I hope Coach Collins and the staff put their heads together and come up with a plan to make the needed adjustments. Philly is ready to embrace this team!Would really be a shame to squander this chance to revitalize the fanbase with a demoralizing second half

Wow!!! Surely this qualifies as the longest comment EVER :).

dude...when i saw that thing after I posted it I was like good grief. this is what happens when i am desperately trying to procrastinate in the middle of writing an overdue paper...hope there is some legit "insight" somewhere in there!

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sfw reply to mymanjrue on Feb 21 at 8:52
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Agree with your thoughts. Good luck with your paper.

paper turned out well, thanks

Interestingly this is the 33rd game of the season. Everything is happening so fast that the season has been a blur.

Believe it or not, right now the Sixers are on pace to win 41 games. Again!

It would be interesting to have a more general discussion about the state of the team after the Houston game during the allstar weekend. Where is the team compared to where we expected them to be? How much, if at all the perception of the team has changed? What are the best things to do going forward? How has surprised and who has dissapointed?

All questions that need to be answered as the trade deadline nears. Meanwhile Sixers, go get these 2 wins :)

Actually Brian, i have a few ideas about a post so i might sit down these days and write something down about an issue that has been bothering me for a while. If i do so, i will send it to you so if you'll think it's interesting you can post it as a separate post an not just a comment.

Recipe for win tonight: Pass the ball like it's a hot potato, drive the ball down their throat like you do a favorite pizza pie, wipe mouth and make your foul shots, rebound like the ball like it's a filet mignon cut (and cooked to taste), run and stretch the court like strands of capellini, defend like your dog with its latest find, dive for loose balls like they're your last meal, resist fresh turnovers, don't let overbearing and fastidious chef Collins ruin your meal. Look up at scoreboard and belch with a sense of satisfaction for your work in one more salad day.

Sixers dieting lately, unbecomingly so. "Feed your face, boys. No one's gonna do it for ya."

Memphis should be hungry after last night's loss in Houston, but may be too tired to lift spoon to mouth. Home cookin' helps, but only if you can make it down to the kitchen.

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eddies' heady's on Feb 21 at 9:23
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I'm kind of worried about Conley eating Jrue up tonight. Don't know why, may be because Rubio sort of had his way with him.

Yeah, gotta pay close attention or he'll steal every morsel. Leads league at 2.45 pg.

And Tony Allen 6th in league in steals; Rudy Gay, 11th.

Sounds like 'back door' and back picks for breakfast, lunch and dinner until hosts learn to comport themselves properly. Only problem, the "oop" isn't up Collins' alley.

Good point -- the Sixers almost never set back picks or run misdirection plays off the ball. It's something that's been missing since DiLeo and Andre Miller were around. I would think Thad, for example, would flourish on that type of play (if he gets the ball in space around the hoop, he's deadly). Given the Sixers' struggles in the halfcourt, it would seem a logical avenue to explore.

The closest they come to anything like that is when the big does the handoff on the baseline instead of out on the floor. Of course, it's easy for the D to switch to cover up the cutter in that situation.

I can remember one nice backdoor-ish play they ran a couple of weeks ago, it was set up by running Meeks off a couple of curls, then when the D overplayed they slipped it for a layup. Don't think they really went back to it at all in that game or since.

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eddies' heady's reply to Brian on Feb 21 at 10:09
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Ander Miller and Iguodala used to run that oop play several times a game. No reason why Jrue can't make that pass and Doug isn't going to the well a few times a game with it.

Yeah, it's basic pressure countering and sound basketball, with good execution; Thad, most glaring potential beneficiary. Miller, great at settin' it up; could be a star at Hermosa Beach after NBA retirement.

And you don't have to be Calvin Murphy to make a strong back door cut against a leaning-forward defense; alertness, timing and a pair of hands'll do, given sharp deliveryman.

So, I was watching the Spurs-Jazz last night, and the Spurs had almost the identical situation to what the Sixers had vs. the Wolves: up 2, 5 second difference between shot and game clock at the end of the game. The play they ran: (1) pick-and-roll with Parker and Duncan at the top of the key, (2) Parker gets in the lane, draws a help defender, (3) Parker throws a skip pass to Gary Neal at the three-point line extended on the weak side, (4) Neal swings to Richard Jefferson in the corner for an open three, (5) Jefferson hits the three. Jefferson had hit one shot all game prior to that, the open corner three is a great shot for him.

So contrast that with isolation offense the Sixers always run in that situation. How much more difficult is it to defend a play where four (capable) players are involved vs. one? It's not that the Sixers don't have the personnel for it either: substitute Brand and Jrue/Lou for Duncan and Parker, Meeks for Neal, Iguodala for Jefferson, and it's a reasonable facsimile of what the Spurs ran.

Most NFL teams no longer run rollout plays at the goal line, because that cuts half the field off. Similarly, the isolation offense makes only one player a danger to score. It's time for the Sixers to stop going to it at the ends of games.

End game isolation, an especially poor bet when you don't carry a clearly superior talent on roster as in the case of Sixers. The Lou or AI9 'dribble, shake & heave'; half-baked stuff. Gotta do better than that. Who's the offensive mastermind on the coaching staff? Collins loses his mind at the end of games, or so it appears.

Ricky Rubio = Ernie DiGregorio (+ 4 inches - knee injury).

Minnesota Timberwolves are finally out of the wilderness.

@preston76 Coach Collins tells media that #Sixers will start Nocioni w/Allen tonite v. Grizz; EB will be out (rt thumb sprain) "next two nights."

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jsmoove reply to sixerfan1220 on Feb 21 at 12:01
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how do you not start thad?

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bebopdeluxe reply to jsmoove on Feb 21 at 12:19
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If you start Thad, that might force Collins to play Turner more than he wants...so instead, we get the return of the mullet!

If there is any more telling sign of how far Turner has fallen on the depth chart, this is it.

Wow! Has Collins lost his mind? Why not a three man rotation of Vucevic, Thad and Battie if Brand and Allen are out along with Hawes? Nocioni at the 4? Seriously??

I am hoping that they are showcasing him and he is on his way to be traded...

What's the story w/ Battie?

Latest I could find is that he would be available last Wednesday...he hasn't played since.

Is this a joke? I'd rather see Elson than Nocioni. How do you not just start Turner at the 4 then if you want to go small? He is clearly a better rebounder and can actually play defense without fouling. What the hell is soooo wrong with just letting Thad or Voose start? I understand they are better suited for coming off the bench but you have to make sacrifices with Brand/Hawes both out.

Pull your head out of your ass Doug and banish this bum back to the end of the bench where he belongs. I love Doug, but he sometimes coaches too much with his heart and not his head.

This goes from a possible win to a loss just like that IMO. Mullet at the 4? Yikes.

Ugh. Just ugh.

Bravo, Doug. Bravo.

So Lavoy on Gasol and Nocioni on Speights. Doesn't sound like trouble at all.

Weight until Nocioni tries shooting/dribbling

Conspiracy theory. Nocioni playing because Sixers want to show the league he still can play(even a little), perhaps setting up a trade where they would throw him in with some other players to aquire a big man who can do the dirty work on the inside.

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Court_visioN reply to Gdog on Feb 21 at 13:33
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I hope you're right, but I kinda doubt it.

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Mike reply to Stan on Feb 21 at 14:02
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isn't Bogut out for the year?

Why would Bucks give up one of league's better bigs for a run-of-the-mill scoring guard and an expensive and fading swing man? On top of that, even if they'd be so foolish, you'd have to disturb Thorn's sleep.

Over/under (or before/after) on the first "Nocioni dribble drive, fuck me" from Brian? I'll put the line at 8:30.

The actual court activity - UNDER 8:30. Bet the house.

The only thing about advanced stats that bugs me is all the loose estimations (ie .44 in ts%) that could favor a less able player (who makes less and-1s, etc). I'd rather see a .5 with a * next to it

Huh?

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comment reply to comment on Feb 21 at 14:31
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Someone should petition the leauge to start tracking types of foul shots (like statman did in a post) and record how many came from and-1s, 3 point attempts, etc. Then the metric could be much tighter

Ah, gotcha. You can find and-ones in synergy.

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comment reply to comment on Feb 21 at 15:07
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ts% (as 1 example) uses 0.44*FTA to estimate possesions used. I think a more precise measure would use .33*FTA for 3 point FT, .5*FTA for regular FT, 0*FTA for and-1s (since the FGA counted the poss)

The only problem is what to do about technical foul shots. They don't count as a possession, but you can score points on them.

The 0.44 is a decent approximation compared to some others in advanced statistics. If I ever have time, I'll write a post deconstructing PER ...

Ok cool. I do still agree (like xsago said recently) that this is one of the best available single measures of offensive performance available.

Scoring efficiency, yes. Offensive performance, no.

FYI we are still favored to win this game in Vegas.

2nd night of a b-2-b for Memphis, I guess that's why.


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