After the nice comeback victory at New Orleans (93-101) Sixers completed their five game road trip at 3-2 (.600) and rose to the top of the Atlantic Division.
But there is more. Much more. Please take a look at the following numbers & thoughts.
1) Lost by four to the team that currently leads the Western Conference at 5-1, Portland, in a close game that we could/should have won.
2) Lost by three at Utah, in a game that... etc etc, pretty much same as above, only difference the Jazz are a bad team.
Let's say we could have added at least another W in one of those two games. Saying that our record could have been 4-1 is not being biased, I think.
(Please remember that Monta Ellis didn't play at GS, that Utah was missing Al Jefferson, that NO was without Ariza: but yes, I factored that in)
3) Sixers play 15 of the next 18 at home (!!), including five games in six nights (!!!!), starting with a 4-game stretch that includes Detroit, Toronto, Indiana and Sacto, whose combined record is 9-14.
Just FYI I don't believe all the hype regarding the Pacers, to be honest with you, and think our roster is better than their. I say getting 4 Ws in that mini series is doable. Hey, losing to Detroit or Toronto at home would be a disaster, and could make me change thoughts, but so far....
There is more, some extra reasons to be optimistic.
Sixers play totally unselfish basketball, which is very good to see for a fan. In the Hornets game you could see many extra passes, patience in finding the open man, different players taking responsabilities etc. Guys are "playing the right way", as Larry Brown would say (more after the break). no comments
I thought, and confim, that he's a talented player and that we could have used him in the rotation.
But Sixers traded Marreese Speights to Memphis for... basically nothing. Two late second rounders.
Apparently there aren't fellow Speights fans, or at least "fans", out there.
Of course his attitude, the notorious lazyness, the fact that he (reportedly) was the only Sixers out of shape at the beginning of this season didn't help much, either.
He played ZERO minutes so far, and few noticed/cared.
I also perfectly understand that the move was made basically for financial reasons: saving $ 2.7 million, his salary for this year, is important. I realize that, ok?
But I'm talking from a basketball point of view and I think we will miss something with Speights gone.
I mean instant offense off the bench. In his best days he was a frontcourt version of Lou Williams.
Say what you want about Speights, but the guy can flat out score. He has a nice outside shot, even from long distance (something he always tends to overuse, as we all know), ability to use both hands around the rim, "sense" of rebounding, especially at the offensive end.
Over the years he developed some ability in drawing charges, also (an eminent sample in the pic).
Boxing out (=rebounding), low post defense and ...defense were/are his biggest flaws, not to mention his work ethic has always been questionable according to almost everyone inside and around the franchise. Speights is the typical young and talented player that drives fans (and coaches ?) mad with his poor attitude and lazy plays. It happened to me many times, of course.
BUT... (more after the break) no comments
Yes, it's true the Warriors played without Monta Ellis, but Sixers were on the second night of a back to back: it didn't show at all.
We looked fresher, we set the tempo, we run, we were reactive and focused.
After a slow start (20-7 Golden State following a 13-0 run), Sixers were smart enough not to lose their composure and immediately scored nine unanswered points, to get back into the game.
The second and third quarter were the story of the game.
Sixers played hard defense, shot the ball extremely well from behind the arc, with Lou Williams hitting 4/4 at the break, were able to get to the line a lot of times (even if they were just 8/19 at a point !) and outscored Golden State 53-29 in those 24 minutes: it was 54-72 at the end of the third.
The only scaring moment came in the fourth, when Golden State cut our lead to fifteen (60-75) and Sixers reached the foul limit with nine minutes to play.
But then came another impressive three point barrage, with Holiday beating the shot clock for the first of a decisive sequence that saw two more treys by Iguodala and the same Holiday, followed by a smart "and one" play by Lou Williams on a fastbreak that sealed the win: 66-90 with 6 minutes left.
It's time for some..
...RANDOM THOUGHTS (after the break) no comments
After the game I learned that this was Sixersâ€™ seventh straight loss in Utah (102-99, 1-2, .333), and 21th in the last 23.
Well, then I donâ€™t know if and when we will be able to steal a W at all there, because losing to a 0-2, Jefferson-less, (bad) Jazz team looked like a really tough task before tip off. We eventually, somehow found a way.
It was vintage Sixers yesterday, and by that I mean the team of the Eddie Jordan era, or the one that started last season at 3-13.
Building a nice lead only to see it evaporating quickly, not finishing just underneath the rim, looking tentative, bricking key free throws down the stretch, missing the decisive shots in the last possessions. Doesnâ€™t that â€śpackageâ€ť remind you of something? Something youâ€™ve seen (too) many times?
It was really a golden chance to take another one on the road, climb over .500 and gain some momentum, some confidence. Clank.
I do think that we lost the game in the second quarter: the early 26-39 lead, with Utah looking really in trouble and ready to be killed, turned into 48-47 Jazz with 1.37 left. A 22-8 run, with Harris scoring 13 in the quarter and leading a really unlikely comeback.
Sixers of course did their part with sloppy offensive possessions (including some really terrible spacing in many occasions), bad shots, lack of hustle. We should have closed the game there, pushing it to +20, kinda like we did in Phoenix.
Jazz built an eight point lead in the fourth (85-77), but Sixersâ€™ didnâ€™t give up and the game came down to the last possessions. And in such cases, I think that nearly every Sixers fan shares my same feeling: that we will end up losing the game, somehow. Of course thatâ€™s exactly what happened. Not being negative, just realistic (more after the break).no comments
Not much to recap after such game, the Suns were soundly outplayed in almost every aspect of the game.
Suns starters, "led" by an unrecognizable Steve Nash combined for a pitiful 7/33 from the field, which counts for 21%, while Sixers placed six players in double figure, extending the 34-48 halftime lead to 34-67 in the third.
Yes, it means the second half began with a 19-0 Sixers run (!): Suns' first basket came with 5.48 left, only to be followed by a three point play by Spencer Hawes, that set the score at 36-70.
The remaining part of the game was basically meaningless, with Sixers able to manage the large lead and Collins resting veterans Iguodala & Brand and giving valuable playing time to the young guys.
So definitely an encouraging win, the 2nd straight in Phoenix btw, even if it's not to forget that these Suns look like the shadow of the fun, explosive team that used to kick asses around the League 3-4 years ago.
RANDOM THOUGHTS (after the break) no comments
I'd say it was a quite disappointing outing.
In fact many times during the game I found myself wondering: "Oh no, this is like last season", and I was thinking about the close losses, all those games Sixers could and should have won, and instead they ended up losing for ...well, some "details".
A turnover here, a loose ball there, a second chance or a three allowed on a key possession. All those small things that separate a mediocre team from a good one, you know.
Of course it would be stupid to complain, and I'm not going to be negative after Game 1, but, of course, I would have liked more taking this one, in the first of a five game road trip. You know, the confidence boost, the "strong start" etc etc...
Speaking of start, here are some points that have to be made (after the break): no comments
Sixers head to the playoffs seriesÂ vs Miami after losing the final game 100-104 against Detroit.
Looks like even the players are somehow baffled (see the pic).
The final record says 41-41, .500.
That's theÂ definition of "mediocrity" according to the large majority of NBA fans. Which isÂ pretty correct, if you think about it.
But we should be happy remembering it was 3-13 to start: it means we finished 38-28.
Sixers' run was definitely stunning, one more time I have to admit this team completely surprised me with the late surge.
After the crappy start I was thinking about another 25-27 W season, not to mention I predicted 33 Ws beforeÂ game 1.
Instead... (more after the jump)no comments
AlwaysÂ a tough matchupÂ for us.
Yeah, it's better that we will faceÂ Miami (0-3 this year, LOL).
Magic continued in their domination of the Sixers, getting aÂ 85-95 W in Philly, to keep us just one game above the 'mediocrity' mark (41-40, .506).
Honestly I don'tÂ have the updated statÂ about the all time series vsÂ Orlando, but for sureÂ in the last 3-4 years it should be something really ugly.
This timeÂ was no exception as their usual lethal combination of inside/outside game simply was too much to handle for a depleted Sixers team, playing without Iguodala and Lou Williams.
ElevenÂ made threes (on 25, 44%) and a ridiculous 56-31 rebounding advantage (19 offensive) should tellÂ all you need to know about this game.
What the final box score does NOT say is that Orlando held a 25-2Â (!!!!) edge under the boardsÂ with 7 minutes left in the second, and that they hit six of their first seven threes,Â 10 of 17 at a point in theÂ third. (more after the jump)no comments
IfÂ you areÂ entitled to be worried after a W, well, this was a good case.
Sixers beat the Raptors 98-93 to improve their record to 41-39 (.512).
I think the good news basically stop here.
The team is clearly slumping, many players are playing below their usual level, the absence of Lou Williams is hurtingÂ us, just as much as I expected (and perhaps more than the majorityÂ of Sixers fans was thinking).
Looks likeÂ something has changed in the chemistry, andÂ the overall confidence of the teamÂ seems going down.
There is no reason to overreact, panic, scream, blame this or that player, lose your composure. Always remember we are going to the playoffs after a wonderful season, and there is still (a little bit of) time to fix things.
Wins usually fix many things, so let's take this last one.
It took WAY too much effort to beatÂ a Toronto team that came in with a 21-57 record,Â was missing starters Calderon, (guido) Bargnani, + Kleiza, Barbosa, lost WeemsÂ in the first half and had its coach ejected late in the fourth. (more after the jump)no comments
For the dunk (?).
Ok,Â sissy dunk attempt: 7-1 Spencer Hawes is getting blocked by 6-6 Bill Walker, a nice way to recap a game with one picture.
For the close loss, 92-97 Knicks, after the usual spirited, entertaining, "fun"Â game that Sixers ended up losing... (40-39, .506).
For the change in the standings, as Sixers fell to seventh place in the East with only three games remaining.
But then again, there is no reason to be disappointed, or panic, or make a big deal out of what is merely a detail in a otherwise fantastic season.
Sixth? Seventh? Does it REALLY matter? Does it change anythingÂ for this team?Â
Despite the latest slide, Sixers are still in a position to finish strong and end the REGULAR season on a high note.
The Knicks game was lost also because of a slow start of third quarter, again (but Sixers trailedÂ by double digit already in the second, 22-34), as NY took a nineteen point lead at 5-69, justÂ before Chauncey Billups had to leave.
Sixers' rally in the fourth was fantastic, from 65-79 to the first lead at 88-87 (2.45 left) with Thaddeus Young singlehandedly carrying the offense (15 in the Q).
Unfortunately Meex's corner threeÂ for the +4Â went in-and-out, while in the following possession Toney DouglasÂ knocked downÂ a hugeÂ shot from beyond the arc (88-90) that, paired with the one drained by Anthony with 11 seconds left in Iguodala's face, gave NY the W (91-95). (more after the jump)no comments