Falling Down – Sixers Lose to Dysfunctional Magic

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Hoops, Sixers
Tags: , , , , ,

In the last eight days the Sixers have been blown out by the Wizards, won an extremely promising tough game against the Hawks, and followed that up with a heartbreaking 6 point loss in Miami, a head scratching blowout loss to the lowly Raptors, and blew a 10 point lead to the most dysfunctional team in the league – the soap operian Orlando Magic.  The Magic, who were down two starters (Hedo & Ryan Anderson) and have been an unenviable saga of dysfunction recently, had a lot of trouble with the Sixers in the first half.  In the second half though, the Sixers ultimately couldn’t contain either Big Baby Davis or JJ Redick.  In the third straight game where Doug Collins has played almost entirely an 8 man rotation (Battie got a few spot minutes), the Sixers lost their third straight.  While Collins is certainly reaching for different things to get the team going at this point in the season, one has to question whether Lavoy Allen or Nik Vucevic might have been able to help provide a defensive and rebounding presence against the likes of Howard and Davis.  Clearly Thad Young was the Sixers most potent offensive weapon tonight, so it makes sense that he got good minutes, but the Sixers were beaten up inside as Howard and Davis combined for 34 rebounds, 14 of them on the offensive end, and the entire Sixers roster had just 41 boards, and just 9 on the offensive end (Hawes and Brand combined for only 17).

Collins said after the game that the starting unit, who were an unforgivable 13 of 44 from the field, has one more opportunity to start together and if they start the same way again a change will be made.  When asked whether he would think about putting Lou into the starting lineup, Collins seemed to bristle and suggest that he wouldn’t move the 6th man of the year candidate into the starting lineup.  He stated “Jodie is just a glue guy,” suggesting that Meeks would be the one to move into the starting lineup if a change needs to be made following another potential loss tomorrow to the Celtics in TD Garden.  One has to assume that the most likely candidates for demotion are Turner and Jrue.  The experiment of them playing alongside each other has led to erratic lines from both.  Given that Iguodala is the teams main distributor, there’s certainly the possibility that Jrue goes to the bench.  Turner has not played particularly well off the bench for the Sixers historically, and Jrue certainly seems like he might be better served playing primary distributor and also providing some more instant offense off the bench.  The argument for Turner returning to the bench is that Jrue, Meeks, and Iguodala certainly can provide better floor spacing than Turner, Meeks, and Iguodala.  It will be interesting to see what change Collins does make, as it seems unlikely that the Sixers will turn it around against the Celtics tomorrow.

The bigger concern for the Sixers now has to be: Can they hold onto a playoff spot at all?  With the Bucks beating the Blazers tonight, the Bucks move to within 1.5 games of the Sixers.  As well as the Bucks are playing and as horribly as the Sixers are playing it is very conceivable that the Sixers could somehow manage to fall out of the playoffs entirely.  At this point, given the depth of the draft and the clear lack of direction for the team, it might not be the worst thing in the world for the Sixers to pick up a lottery pick to package with the expiring contract of Elton Brand or Lou Williams this offseason.  But falling out of the playoffs could possibly be detrimental to Doug Collins’ tenure with the club, as well as a major setback for a basketball team that has at points during this season and last looked poised to rise among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.  The Sixers no longer look like that team.

Adam Aron has recently taken to twitter, reassuring fans that the new ownership group does not find the recent skids and disappearing acts to be the least bit acceptable, stating rather boldly that they have a game plan for the future and that key changes will be made this offseason.  The Sixers certainly have the assets to be a player on the trade market, and could free the cap space with a couple of moves to potentially make a run at a couple of free agents, so it will be interesting to see what the group does.  Most importantly, hopefully they don’t make a move, just to land a “name” or “make a splash.”  Despite clear chemistry issues and a general lack of clutch play, the Sixers still seem to have a fairly bright future with all of their young talent.  Here’s to hoping they get it together immediately, keep most of their key pieces this offseason, and make a few solid personnel moves to augment their already solid core.  Lastly, here’s to hoping these guys can put it together for Doug Collins these last few games.  Doug has worked too hard with this squad to watch them piss away their season entirely.

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