Cheeks and rims are tankers’ best allies
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on January 22, 2008
After the 103-110 home loss to the Indiana Pacers (16-26, .381) I switched to New Orleans-Milwaukee and I watched all that I would like to see from my team: full court intensity, organized basketball, hustle plays, spectacular baskets, MADE SHOTS, an enthusiastic crowd, A TRUE LEADER on the floor… the contrast with what I had just seen earlier was stunning. I hope we will reach all those soon.
As of now, I am here commenting another disappointing home loss to a below average team (exactly like us), that was without its best player (Jermaine O’Neal) and that had another key contributor in the first half sidelined by an injury in the second (Troy Murphy). It was definitely a sweet comeback home for Philly guy Jim O’ Brien.
So we are here heading for the lottery again.
Tankers now have some secret allies: one is on our bench and is a human being, the others are inanimated, immobile things that Sixers players often “use” to lose games: the Wachovia center’s rims.
Who follows this blog knows perhaps that I was never a great Cheeks fan. A legend as a player, good guy and everything, but not exactly a great baskebtabll mind, in my humble opinion. To his credit he was never given lot of talent to work with, this year more than ever. But you have some signs that indicate that he didn’t great even when he had some (how about the 5-19 start of last year for a team with Iverson, Webber and Iguodala ??) But let’s focus on present.
It was a game of several runs, with both teams showing they lack consistency and killer instinct. Overall exciting but not for basketball gourmets…
On Martin Luther King jr.’s day (much respect) when Sixers honored Bobby Jones (much respect) Mo Cheeks showed again he’s a below average coach, with nonsense decisions, slow reactions, poor strategic skills, inability to fix things.
Remember how we got killed by three point shooting in the first game vs Pacers: this time we were facing an extra-small team with a “power” forward that actually likes to stand on the perimeter (Murphy) playing “center” and two swingmen (Dunleavy jr and Granger) to cover alternatively the PF spot, with Tinsley and Rush in the back court.
Guess what, in the FIRST QUARTER, Dalembert and Reggie Evans were taken out of the paint and outside shots started falling immediately: 8-20 Pacers, with three treys ! The rain lasted 12 minutes, and with the score at 19-32 at the end of the period Indiana had already knocked down 5 of 7 shots from behind the arc (!).
But it took Mo 8 minutes to pull out a completely useless Reggie Evans and throw Thaddeus Young (in the picture) in. Also it wasn’t funny to see Kareem Rush shooting twice in transition in the same exact way and from the same exact spot, to the point that I thought I watched a replay of the same action (not kidding).
So what happened in the SECOND QUARTER? Of course Indiana opened it with the sixth three of the night, but then the young Sixers started a fantastic 16-0 run, with Jason Smith scoring 8 points, Lou Williams scoring 2 and adding 2 assists, Young and Carney contributing with 2 each in the stretch: 37-35 Sixers, with Indiana turning the ball over and over under the pressure of our defense. Shocking.
We had a game then, but Mo decided that it was time for Jason Smith (BY FAR our best player) to go back to the bench for God-knows-what reason: Sam in. Result: two immediate, consecutive turnovers by our center in the midst of a 2-13 Pacers run (see…runs). Dunleavy closed the half with - guess what - a buzzer beating trey: 49-63. That’s how we couldn’t even win a quarter in which we went on a 16-0 run, 30-31, you do the maths…
HALF TIME STATS didn’t lie: 10/17 from three point land for Indiana (that’s 58% guys…) with Rush 4/5, Dunleavy jr 3/5 (and 21 points…). Sixers with the usual 0 (ZERO) three pointers made. Other gems: Iguodala 6 points on 1/7, 21 assists for the Pacers (Tinsley 9) vs Sixers’ 11… Our best scorer was Andre Miller with 13 (6/10).
You think that after giving up 5 three pointers in the first quarter and 10 at the half, (and this coming after allowing a combined 22/38 – 58% – in the last two games…) an average coach would make some adjustments defensively, no? Well, not with your favorite NBA franchise. Read until the end – tough, i know…
THIRD QUARTER: ugly. We managed to get to the line and hit some free throws (wow) to get closer, we even made a couple of three pointers (WOW !!)… a 11-0 run (yeah, another) and we were there again, 74-76 with Thad Young draining a mid range jumper and reaching double digit. The perfect time for another couple of Pacers treys (Diener, Williams) and another 0-9 run to end the quarter: 79-90. Flat out annoying.
So, imagine how the FOURTH QUARTER started? Correct, Indiana’s thirteenth trey (Rush). And our coach replied with…? A line up of Kevin Ollie, Lou Williams, Rodney Carney, Thaddeus Young + Reggie Evans AS CENTER. D-League material, I would say. Those on the floor and the one on the bench, I mean.
Here came the two inanimated allies that I mentioned: Sixers start attacking the rim, in the sense that they tried to break it from the line, during a more-than-usual brick party. It was 15/27 at a point, with Lou Williams missing all of his four attempts, timely pulling a Reggie Evans. Indiana lead was a pretty confortable fifteen points (85-100, with – what else? – a three by Granger) but since it was a game of runs, with a 9-0 break we pulled within again: 94-100 with 6 minutes to go.
Indiana lacks killer instinct and it showed, helping us with four consecutive misses from the charity stripe, but we couildn’t complete the comeback because with the score at 100-106 with 2 minutes left my boy Jeff Foster had an offensive rebound and a following assist to Rush to close the game.
SIXERS4GUIDOS BONUS THOUGHTS
Iguodala airballed two attempts from behind the arc in the final minute — Shawne Williams had an impressive dunk on Thaddeus Young, I guess it will be Top 10 material — Rush’s 25 points are a season high — Young’s 30 minutes a career high — This last stat, combined with the fact that Sixers wore the cool throwback jerseys again, is the only good thing of the night — Jason Smith played 4 minutes in the second half… smart decision, considering he was the best Sixer in the first, and playing only 8… — Can someone please explain to me Giricek’s 2.42 minutes cameo, because I have no clue — Andre Miller, a career 80% free throw shooter, is 11/20 (55%) from the line in the last 3 games, explain also this while you are at it — Cheeks sucks, but we need him on the bench until April, and we all know why ;-)
UPDATE: for a Pacers fans’ point of view on the game check Indy Cornrows’ recap. In the comments, you will find an exclusive “dialogue” between Dunleavy jr. and Tinsley that cracked me up.