29 December 2009
That this would be a decent team, maybe even pretty good, if properly coached.
Not a contender, eh, but surely a playoffs team, especially in such a weak conference, able to float above .500 more than below that mark.
That Elton Brand still can play. We already knew it, but we got another evidence.
That Allen Iverson still can play. We already knew it, but we got another evidence.
That Eddie Jordan is a horrible coach. We already… etc etc.
Bottom line, the feeling I had after the 93-104 W at Portland was something like: “there is no way a team with Iguodala, Brand, Young, Lou Williams, Speights etc etc (feel free to add Iverson) can be 8-22 (.267) after thirty games, in the E-a-s-t”.
True that Blazers were missing many players (Oden, Pryzbilla, Fernandez, Outlaw, Batum etc etc) but with the guys left they had won the last four straight, so I won’t downplay this nice Sixers’ win, after all nobody felt sorry for us when we had our guys out. This is a cynic League and you have to take advantage of your opponents’ troubles.
Sixers surely did it well, destroying Portland in the paint (60 points !!): Iguodala scored our first three of the night with 4.10 left in the third (65-64, with the help of a lucky bounce), just to give you an idea. And I think it wasn’t a coincidence that our first lead came with Elton Brand finishing a nice drive inside (70-71), few plays after that shot.
Our guys closed the third quarter strong (73-77 with Ivey knocking down a long two pointer at the buzzer), to overcome a double digit deficit (it was 61-51 Blazers with 7.00 to play).
It was a great team effort: surely Portland had no intimidating presence - with Oden and Przybilla out - and lacks good defenders overall, but we were smart in mixing solutions in the fourth quarter.
So Brand continued to do his terrific job inside, Iguodala progressively grew in efficiency (12 of his 14 points in the second half), connecting well with Speights (the center had two dunks off nice feeds by Andre), Iverson had a hot hand from the outside but also draw a lot of fouls, playing very intelligent offensive basketball.Portland gave us some help, of course: after draining five of their first seven treys, they missed the next six, many of which were wide open shots. Add some unusual misses from the line (Roy, a career 80% free throw shooter, was 3/7), around zero defensive stops and you got the picture. To make a long story short, in the last 19 minutes Blazers got outscored 32-53 (more after the jump).
When you file Sam Dalembert and Royal Ivey under the “key factors for the W” category, and can absorb a night off by Thad Young without any significant drop in efficiency, you know your team played a solid game. Even without Willie Green (LOL).
1) Yes, I enjoyed the Andre Miller-vs his former team mates duel. At a point in the third, Miller posted Williams up for an easy layup, then Lou stole him the ball, I'm sure they cracked some jokes out there. Miller had to face also Jrue Holiday and Royal Ivey: I think he did his part and played well.
2) No, Jason Smith is not using well the chances he is being offered, I have to be honest.
He was the first big man to come off the bench but had another couple of bad mistakes in the few minutes he got: forgot to box out twice and allowed offensive rebounds (Portland had 8 in the first 18 minutes, with Pendergraph (?) doing some damage: 8 quick points on 3/3), then he thought he had to make up for those and drove to the basket for an extremely predictable offensive foul: deservedly benched.
3) Yes, it looks like we love to play the Blazers, especially at Portland: sixth win in the last eight meetings at the Rose Garden !
1) Is it “Brand is playing well because he’s coming off the bench” or “Brand is playing well so it would be stupid to continue to bench him” ? I’d go with # 2, as always.
2) Do Lou Williams and Allen Iverson form the worst starting backcourt in the NBA defensively? I think so. Let’s see what will happen with another opponent.
3) Do you think that a line up with Iverson-Ivey-Lou Williams-Iguodala-Dalembert is a frikkin’ joke or a solution that Eddie Jordan actually used during the game?
Hint: the correct answer is NOT #1. Thank God the game was already over. Jeez. I’m 100% sure Jordan was happy he did that, thinking to himself “See? Small ball works !!”.
Why we won the game
Abused Portland in the paint, using all of our weapons in the most effective way. Sixers showed an effective, balanced offense, with different guys carrying the load. I’d have a hard time choosing the MVP: boxscore says Brand hands down, but Iguodala would be a close second with his great all around game. Put Sammy and Ivey slightly below those two.
To be optimistic
After Boston, we had another surprising (?) road win over a very good team. Maybe this could be a little confidence boost. Then again, I said this after the Celtics game and we immediately lost at home to the Clippers….
Speights followed his 0/8 game at Utah with 7/8 last night. Nice way to bounce back. Rebounding still needs work, two boards in 17 minutes won't cut it.
To be worried
Let’s wait another couple of wins like this to say this ‘officially’, but maybe we are starting to gel, too late for a playoffs run and enough NOT to make the lottery… that’s the worst case scenario for any Sixers fan.
Next stop is Sacramento, another city that knows Eddie Jordan pretty well. The last time it happened, Sixers collapsed (@Washington).