Not exactly overwhelming stuff

October 04 [Fri], 2013, 15:33

A Road Trip

And it also seems appropriate to discuss the Sixers' first 27 games, which is almost exactly 1/3 of this season.

The Sixers' 7 wins: New Jersey Nets (2), New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State, and Boston Celtics.

Not exactly overwhelming stuff: on pace for a 2161 season. Maybe I'm an eternal optimist, but I'd be shocked if this team finished with only 21 wins. There's just no way. But anyway, let's look at how this team, a 1/3 into the season, managed to be the secondworst team in the Eastern Conference (only team worse is the New Jersey Nets). Here's the take:

1.) The "offense": Theoretically, and on paper, you could think Eddie Jordan's offense makes perfect sense for this team. Somehow in execution, it has fallen through. I'd like to explain the offense and what options the Sixers are using, but since they signed Allen Iverson, they've been running even less of it than they were previously running. There's one recognizable play: when Lou Williams or Willie Green curls off a staggered screen and gets a handoff. That was the Sixers favorite earlyseason play. Lately, they're not really running Jordan's offense. They seemed overwhelmed by all the play calling and offensive options. Nothing kills a team like guys not buying into what's being done. None of the players have ever said anything about Jordan's offense, but you can't help but feel like from watching they are less than enthused. We'll see though, going forward. It's tough to truly tell because when Jordan coached the Washington Wizards, they were awful his first season as well.

2.) The "defense": (never a good thing when you're having issues with both your offense and defense). When talking about the hit the Sixers Michael Koenen Black Jersey defensive abilities have taken, I go back to something Andre Iguodala said after maybe the 7th or 8th game of the season. Standing in the Sixers locker room, he said "We've been too concerned with learning the offense, we need to get back to focusing on defense." That's a pretty straight forward, innocent statement. It also reveals a lot. The Sixers have the same players they had last year (Andre Miller wasn't a lockdown defender, although he was good in help side), the difference seems to be the mentality and focus on defense. I don't know exactly how much time the Sixers spend each practice on defense. But if you look at all the moves they've made adding Iverson, talking about playing a matchup zone, talking about the offense, talking about starting a backcourt of Lou and AI the No. 1 concern does not seem to be defending.

So there you have it. The Sixers aren't executing the offense, an offense that has been taking a lot of energy to learn, taking away the Sixers' defensive presence. The result? Struggling to score, little ability to defend, lots of losses.

3.) The rotation. It seems like the last couple of games, Jordan has found more production off the bench as well as limiting his rotation. Jordan has Elton Brand and Marreese Speights coming off the bench and producing. Before that, the bench was absolutely nonexistent. So at least there's some improvement in offthebench output, although it's been created by moving a starter (Brand) to the bench and keeping your best center (Speights) out of the starting lineup. Kind of a false way of improving the bench, but still .

As for the Brand situation, I gather there are some folks who think Jordan is making a terrible decision by bringing Brand off the bench, while other folks realize he doesn't fit this team and this is just the first step in people hope trading him. My opinion is somewhere in the middle, leaning towards the latter. Brand doesn't fit this team, he didn't last year and he doesn't this year. My guess is he wouldn't dispute this statement, either. He does put up numbers, but at what cost? I don't think there's a clearcut answer to the Brand issue yet. It's definitely an issue, though.

As far as the rotation, I have no idea what it was. One week, Rodney Carney was the second coming, a week later, he doesn't play at all. One game, Jason Kapono is the main man, the next, he's not checking in until the third quarter. There's no stability until recently about where minutes are coming from and why. As for Jason Smith, who knows what's going on. One game he was left on the bench as Primoz checked in. (Why Primoz would ever go in before Smith is a wonderful question). There aren't answers to the rotation, but now that Jordan has Speights and Sweet Lou back, there does seem to have been a tighter rotation. Hopefully that will help going forward.

4.) Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala. Their numbers are fine. Young is averaging 15.8 points a game, Iguodala 19.6 points a game. But Young's numbers are deceiving. If you look at his last last few weeks, he's scoring a much higher percentage of his points in the first half, and shooting much better in the first half as well. Last season, Young was impressive and seemed poised to break out. This season, Young has blended in much more, despite a few games where he looked like himself. It's nothing you can really explain, but if you watched all of the Sixers games this season, you know as well as I do that Young has not been the same player he was last year. It might be because he's no longer taking defenders by surprise. It might be because he was playing small forward for the beginning of the season after scoring at will against power forwards last season. Even when he's making shots, he's not looking like the same Thaddeus Young.

As far as Iguodala, he would be the perfect player for this team if he averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists a game. The 19.6 points on 42.4 percent shooting is a stretch. If you give a few of Iguodala's shots preferably the offbalance leaning jumpers to Lou Williams and Marreese Speights, the Sixers would be more efficient on offense. Williams and Speights are the goto scorers. Iguodala is the allaround guy. We all know this anyway.

Maybe because I was off for the Los Angeles Clippers game so my last memory of this team is the win over the Boston Celtics, or maybe because it's the holiday season and I'm hoping not to follow a 2161 team this year, but for whatever reason the Sixers do seem better the last couple of weeks: the sub rotation is tighter, the Princeton Offense has been scrapped, Speights and Lou are back, the team seems like it's going at least in the right direction (although it was hard to go any farther in the direction they were traveling).

That brings us to this 6game road trip and what to expect, if you can actually expect anything from such an unpredicatable team. Here's the lineup: Washington tonight, at the Utah Jazz on the 26th, at the Portland Trailblazers (what's up Andre Miller) on the 28th, at the Sacramento Kings on the 30th, at the Clippers on the 31st, at the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 3.

Tonight's game has to be a victory. Looking at all 6 games, You have to think the Sixers can win tonight, at Sacramento, and at the Clippers. 36. So if you don't get tonight's game . hmmmmm. If Sixers finish the trip 33 (thanks for the heads up on my mistake earlier, HB3), they'll come home 1023. Which isn't very good, but in the Eastern Conference doesn't put you Michael Koenen Authentic Jersey out of the playoffs, either. There's also a stretch when they get home that's Wizards, Pistons, Kings, Knicks, Raptors a stretch you think has some winnable games in it.

Which brings us to the final topic of this blog: Allen Iverson. Iverson is out with arthritis in his left knee until the Dec. 28th game against the Portland Trailblazers. All is fine and well for these next two games. Jordan can start a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Williams, Iguodala, Young, and Samuel Dalembert. (By the way, we all know Speights should be starting, but if Jordan expects to get anything out of Dalembert, he has to keep him in the starting lineup.) But Iverson said something interesting yesterday at practice. When asked if he expected his minutes to be limited when coming back, Iverson said he hopes they aren't. He said he's been playing 68 minute stretches, but when he comes back maybe he can play the entire 1st quarter, then sit some of the 2nd. His response sounded very much like he absolutely expects to start when he returns. That means, most likely, Holiday is booted from the starting lineup. Here's my take on that: Holiday.

Jordan has somewhat of a backlog now at guard: Lou, AI, Holiday, Green. Jordan has already moved Green out of the starting lineup, replacing him with Williams. So we know Green is the odd man out there. No need to further get into this topic, yet.

So, bottom line of this 720 start? Gut reaction is that both Eddie Jordan and the Sixers got sold a bill of goods that wasn't delivered. Looks like Jordan thought he was inheriting a team that was ready to learn this Princeton Offense and was fit for the job. He comes in and maybe people weren't as receptive as he thought or was told they would be. Looks like the Sixers thought they were getting a guy who could make this Offense put up big numbers, while still keeping the defense at its previous levels. Neither of those things happened so far anyway. And the result has been disastrous (if you're a Sixers fan).

As always, follow on Twitter: Deep Sixer. Jason Smith can't play. He is too soft on defense and a poor rebounder. Brezec should not be playing ahead of him but that goes for anyone and Brezec. There is no reason to expect Igoudala to continue shooting 42% from the field. He has shot at least 45% the last few years. Lou Williams and Speights get plenty of shots as it is. The answer to this teams problems is not having one of there three best offensive players shoot less. Thad Young works best as a 4. He has played a lot 3. Glad I could give you some insight.

Very thorough and complete post (though the math is off if they win 3 on the trip they'll be 33 and 1023 on the season; can't imagine them winning more than 2, though). I agree about Thad and Andre Thad seems much less confident this year for some reason, and I'm concerned about how atrocious he is dribbling the ball. I guess I'm OK if 2 of the best players come off the bench as long as they get the lion's share of the minutes Marc Iavaroni did start for the 83 Michael Koenen Elite Jersey team, didn't he? One thing that also seems to be missing is a sense of role and all good teams need this. Good teams know who's supposed to be doing what and know they can count on their teammates to stay in role unless circumstances dictate shifting into another, temporary role (being someone's wingman and covering for them if they're beat). But I get the sense that, for much of the game, guys just go in and try to "be productive" without a clear sense of their specific piece of the puzzle, like "shut down their best scorer" or "crash boards" or "look to pass first". Maybe I'm wrong, but to me, having a clear sense of role helps both individual players to be successful as well as teams to be successful.

I've been following the Sixers since '83 and following them very closely the last 20 years. I've never seen a Sixers team do less with more. Again, I've never seen a Sixers team do less with more. I've seen a couple versions do more with less (with Allen Iverson and a young Theo and with Andre Miller/Iguodala two years ago). I've seen some teams that were onpaper and oncourt disasters (the Shawn Bradley era). I've seen lots of teams where Iverson carried the offense, of course. But I've never seen a team that plays well in stretches and then just stinks at key times of the game. It's totally predictable! Guts of a game, as Zumoff says, and it's always the same: a key miss followed by a key make by the other team. Now Boston was the opposite and another tenth of a second would've nailed it home on Saturday against the Clippers. But this team has more guys that can go for 20 than any team I can ever remember. Iggy, Lou, Brand, Speights, Young, Green, and now IVERSON. That's why I also believe they'll win more like 30 games. But oh will it be painful to watch. They have to trade some offense for defense. Even Billy King was able to do that!!!!!! Also, one last thing about their awful defense. I think Miller's offense contributed to fewer possessions in a typical game. I think this team rushes more shots now in games and those misses lead to even more scoring by the other team, hence the stat of already giving up more 110 point games then all of last year.

Brand and Dalembert are your best defenders on the 76ers. If EJ has any hope of establishing any kind of defensively scheme, he'll need to incorporate Brand and Dalembert into his plans somehow.

The fact that EJ doesn't even mention the word "defense" to his team, is disturbing. It's funny how you mentioned that Igoudala said we need to play better defense that's really sad when your PLAYERS are telling people we need to play better defense, not the coach. That just goes to show how bad of a coach EJ really is.

Good defense translates into easy buckets on the offensive end and opens things up for your offense as well. Every coach knows this and that's why the TOP teams in the league like Lakers and Celtics, stress defense. That's also why the top offensive teams like Golden State, who put up big offensive stats, are at the bottom with losing records like the 76ers.

Put Brand in, let him be your defensive catalyst and I believe the 76ers will have a much better chance of winning.
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