|According to Marc Stein, the Sixers are on the verge of trading Marreese Speights in a three-team deal that would land Speights in Memphis, Xavier Henry in New Orleans and two future draft picks in Philadelphia.|
|When the Hornets traded away Chris Paul, they seemed destined for a high lottery pick in this summer's draft. Then they went out and won their first two games, handily, over the Suns and the Celtics. Well, the fairy tell in New Orleans has come crashing down in their three games since. Three losses to bad teams and all seems to be according to plan once again.|
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|This will be the last time until the All-Star break when there is more than one day between Sixer games, so here is something to think about until then. It's been interesting to observe the comments on the blog so far in this young season, because the Sixers have been led by stellar performances from two of their more unpopular players (Hawes and Lou) and their most polarizing player (Iguodala), while three of their more popular players (Jrue, Thad, Turner) have struggled at times. So we've seen, from opposite ends of the spectrum, both reluctant praise (e.g., for Hawes) and reluctant criticism (e.g., for Jrue). This got me to thinking about the nature of rooting for athletes and teams.|
|With four games in the books and one left on the season-opening road trip, let's take a look at some early trends (for the team and the players) and see if we can pick out the ones that encourage/worry/excite us, and which are most likely to continue.|
|The Sixers finished off 2011 in style with a 107-79 trouncing of the Golden State Warriors (game capsule). Happy New Year everyone, and just remember, by the transitive property, the Sixers are better than the Bulls and Knicks (both lost to GSW).|
|If the question is whether the Sixers have made a leap, after Portland the answer was probably not, after Phoenix it was maybe, after Utah...definitely not yet. After out-classing the Jazz for the first 16 minutes of this game, they suddenly decided they were too good to do the things you need to do to win on the road, and a terrible Jazz team showed them what happens when you take things for granted on the road in this league. (game capsule).|
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|The Jazz are a bad, bad team. They've lost their first two games by a combined 42 points. A thoroughly apathetic Devin Harris is their best player and C.J. Miles has taken it upon himself to act like a one-man show on the offensive end. They could present a challenge, however, because they have four able-bodied bigs.|
|Fight back against a good team on the road: check. Demolish a bad team on the road: check. Build up a big lead, don't let the other team come back: check. Three minor items on the Sixers to-do list early in the season, all three in the yes column. 103-83 was the final in Phoenix last night (game capsule).|
|The Sixers essentially beat themselves in Portland with a slew of turnovers, but it was a tough game, in a tough arena against a good team. A test, if you will, for a team with big plans and probably some more work to do to reach their goals. Tonight's game in Phoenix against the Suns, however, is a game they absolutely should win.|
|Continuity, apparently, is not a cure-all in this abbreviated NBA season, or at least it wasn't on opening night for the Sixers (game capsule). The Sixers looked every bit like a team without the benefit of a full camp and preseason schedule as they bumbled their way through an ugly first quarter, then fell short in their valiant comeback attempt.|
|It's always best to break the season down into easily digestible portions. Typically, we use 10 game slices, but this year let's go with 11 so we can do it in six easy parts. Up first, the first 11. Check out the schedule and vote for what you think the Sixers record will be on January 14th.|