Miller the real leader of surging Sixers
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on February 12, 2008
It took a “Eastern Conference player of the week award” and a series of excellent games, capped by last night’s 84-76 home win vs Dallas (22-30, .423, still 1/2 game away from the 8th seed) where Andre was by far the best Sixer on the court.
Actually I knew it even before. Now I’m not here to brag or anything, I missed so many predictions and evaluations it’s not even funny (wanna know some? I picked the Nets to easily win the Atlantic Division, ahead of Boston, and Miami to dominate in the Southwest…) but about Andre Miller I’ve always had a clear idea: he’s a keeper.
Let’s cut the recap of the Dallas game short, because this post comes late (I couldn’t watch the game live and just finished watching it taped).
Mavericks were on the second night of a back-to-back, coming after a bad 82-101 loss in New Jersey where they allowed the Nets a 0-21 run… they were without Devin Harris, Eric Dampier and Jerry Stackhouse, Dirk Nowitzki missed some minutes in the first quarter and Josh Howard, hit by Reggie Evans, had to leave in the fourth.
Still, Sixers did very well what they were supposed to do: beat the tired, depleted, shorthanded Dallas team, exactly. They did it with what became their best weapons lately: a nice mix of tough defense & easy points in transition.
We all know this team is limited offensively (no low post scorers, no reliable three point/outiside shooters) but when it manages to control the boards and run, it’s a pleasure to watch. Against Dallas, it happened like this, again.
After a close first quarter, Mavericks were up ten in the second (41-51) but Miller scored Sixers’ last 9 points, including a three (!!) to make it 50-53 at the break.
In the second half Mavericks simply could never make a shot (5/22 in the third, 3/16 in the fourth, for a combined 8/38 from the field, including 13 straight misses, and 23 points in 24 minutes… Dirk was 1/10) while Sixers took care of business thanks to Miller, Iguodala and Lou Williams. a 12-1 run put the game out of reach for Dallas, that nearly tied its franchise low for points in a quarter (8): a putback by Bass 24 seconds before the final buzzer avoided the shame.
In the heart of this young, athletic, fun Sixers team, leading all the youngsters flying around him, there is a 32 y/o unathletic, not flashy point guard who is having the best year of his good, solid, long NBA career (just don’t tell it to Clippers fan…).
His 16.7 points per game average, his 49.2% from the field are a career best and I wouldn’t even mention his open streak of consecutive games played, first because I am too lazy to go check, second because I am a guido (= supersticious).
Sam Donellon has a nice article about Miller’s underrated leadership, I would add just my two euros (not cents 🙂 ) explaining one more time that:
(SIXERS4GUIDOS DEEP THOUGHTS…)
1) you don’t go anywhere with a roster of players that are all 20-24 y/o (see the Clippers in the past, the Hawks for more than a decade etc etc…)
2) you need a/some veteran presence(s), both on the court and in the locker room
3) if the veteran presence happens to be the player who keeps the ball in his hands for the most time, that’s even better
4) Lou Williams is a heck of a player, an amazing talent and one of the best things happened to the Sixers this year, but in my opinion he is NOT ready to take the starting job for a full season: he needs one more year of development coming off the bench. With Miller
ahead besides him he can go on learning a lot of things, including leadership
5) you guys that want Miller traded now to “free (more) cap space” forget that our same GM explained that we have enough already to be a big player in the free agent market of 2008 (I
hope assume he knows our salary situation better than GM wannabees and Real GM Trade checker maniacs), and forget that Miller would be even more than the current trading asset NEXT year, when his 10 millions will come off the books
Sixers play host to Memphis on Wednesday, the last game before the All Star Game. Check 3 Shades of Blue for full Grizzlies (and Darko) coverage. Can we win five in a row? And can Iguodala actually hit a free throw, for God’s sake?