Posts Tagged ‘Elton Brand’

It’s hard to judge a team on¬†two games, especially a¬†game against the Nets, who were down Gerald Wallace and have every reason as an organization to want to lose games and try to retain their draft pick (it was traded to Portland, but is top three protected), or a game against the lowly Toronto Raptors.¬† I have to admit though, that¬†after me throwing him under the bus¬†just a couple of days ago, Collins seemingly made some very shrewd and difficult lineup changes prior to¬†Tuesday’s tilt against the¬†Nets.

Prior to the game, I was convinced that Doug would bench either Jrue¬†or Evan for Jodie Meeks, but I never would’ve thought to bench Spencer.¬† It seemed like Spencer was such a vital component of their early season success.¬† His shotblocking, his rebounding, his great high post passing, and his ability to sink the face up jumper all seemed like critical components to the way the Sixers¬†ran their offense, and neither Vucevic¬†nor Lavoy¬†was ever stellar as a starter in his place.¬† What I failed to take into account, is we’d never really seen Hawes¬†play with the second unit, get the opportunity to dominate backup frontcourt¬†players.¬† It’s okay if Vucevic just holds his own with that first unit, hits a few open shots, and holds his own on the boards and plays decent defense.¬† Spencer wasn’t doing a great deal more than that lately, and often he seemed to be doing less.¬† It also adds a much needed body to Collins’ rotation, which had been at just 8 players throughout the four game losing streak.¬† That had to be a factor in a season where guys¬†are already worn out.

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If you haven’t read Kate Fagan’s recent take¬†on the trials and tribulations of the Sixers it’s definitely worth a read.¬† Kate was always the most plugged-in reporter on the Sixers beat and it makes sense that she would be the one to break this story.¬† Even if a bit of it may be conjecture, its clear that her words are informed by legitimate information from the Sixers players she developed relationships with¬†while working with the team.¬† The blowout loss to the Wizards, the blowout loss to the Raptors, and the back-to-back losses to Magic and Celtics all make a lot of sense within the context of the notion that the players have hit the wall with Doug Collins.¬† His history with teams speaks for itself, and many of us who have written about¬†him with the Sixers¬†have ignored it because we were so pleased with the results he brought in his first season and a half with the Sixers.¬†¬†Maybe¬†we also wanted¬†to give the guy the benefit of the doubt that he had changed his approach and learned from his mistakes in the over half a decade he took away from the bench.¬† Sixers fans inherently want to believe in Doug for other reasons:

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Tonight was a good night to be at the Wells Fargo Center.¬† Not only did the Sixers exorcise some of their demons, but they got a much needed win to stay in the hunt¬†to win the¬†Atlantic Division.¬† There are a few quick interesting elements of the game worth covering.¬† Doug Collins didn’t seem to suggest that any of the following¬†were any more than fluke or circumstance, but the following happened in the last five minutes of the Sixers game tonight:

1) Lou Williams and Thad Young didn’t even sniff the court.¬† Doug states that they were both exhausted, and that¬†Jrue, Evan, and Meeks were on the court because they were energetic.

2) The Sixers ran their offense late, they played the way they typically play for the other 43 minutes of the game.¬† They did not¬†have a single possession of “hero ball,” and they¬†looked for the open man, the mismatch, they passed out of double-teams, and they ran the offense primarily through Elton Brand.¬† Who was seriously clutch.

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For those of you who hoped this was solely a blog about the Portland Trailblazers, the team I grew up on and will always love, as any self-respecting native Oregonian must, given the lack of other professional competition in the Land of the Empire Builders – I’m sorry to disappoint.¬† Having married a Philadelphian and lived in Philly for the last couple of years, I’ve begun to closely follow a second team, the 76ers.¬† Don’t worry, if¬†there’s ever a rematch of the ’77 Finals, my allegiances will always still be with Rip City.¬† But when I moved here, having lived in New York, New England, and Oregon previously, I couldn’t believe how affordable a set of partial season tickets in excellent seats were for my family.¬† For a diehard basketball fan, I went initially (as I had to Kingdome¬†games¬†in Harlem) just to see the competition.¬† I hoped the Sixers¬†would make the games interesting, but in the Eddie Jordan era, they seldom did.¬† I was struck by the lack of support or interest the Sixers had from local sports fans.¬† They weren’t good, but they were young and they were promising, and they were clearly trending in the right direction, even if after they lost a key leader¬†with Andre Miller’s departure and got a patch of terrible coaching I could see that they were headed somewhere in the not too distant future.

This year, they’ve shown the ability to put it all together for brief stretches.¬† Lately, not so much, but with Spencer working his way back into the rotation, I have to think it’s coming soon.¬† I’ve been working on¬†an interesting (or at least interesting to me) statistical¬†project based on analysis of film from¬†some individual Sixers¬†games.¬† The project¬†require hours of video analysis and I haven’t had the time to sift through all the film yet, but I’ll be sure to share my findings soon on that front.¬† I think they may provide some additional support for the value of Andre Iguodala on this team, although it’s hard for me to believe that after years of giving him shit about being an overpaid pseudo-star, this city doesn’t realize just how valuable he is to this franchise right now.

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