Sixers 4 guidos

The first italian Sixers blog

Houston, problem… solved ??

Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on January 8, 2009

83006008JG012_ROCKETS_SIXERSWell, surey not all Sixers’ problems are solved.

But still the 104-96 win over Houston was a big step in the right direction (14-20, 412).

Enjoy Sixerdave’s recap – written right after the game – and I’ll add my two cents at the end, cuz I just finished watching the games replayed.

The Sixers problems have been well documented this season. Coaching, outside shooting, chemistry, mental mistakes, and of course the injury to Brand.
 
But last night with the Rockets coming to town… Houston had a problem.
 
The Rockets couldn’t keep up with the explosive Sixers tonight as Iguodala led the way with 28 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.  Rookie phenom Marreese Speights chipped in with 15 points, 8 boards and 4 blocks.  Last night, the Sixers did not mimic their late game stumbles against the Nuggets or Mavericks.  They scored enough clutch baskets to beat Yao and company.
 
The Sixers neutralized the finesse-styled Yao with physical and aggressive play.  Dalembert got his second foul early, but Theo came in and did an outstanding job, even blocking the 7-foot-5 monster twice on the same possession.
 
Iguodala shot 12 for 19 from the field as noone on the Rockets could stop him.  The similar sized McGrady was hobbled and Iguodala was hitting from inside and outside.
 
Dileo’s motion and movement on offense is getting the fleet-footed Iguodala into situations where the defense cannot rotate back in time to stop him.  He’s getting a lot of dunks and earning trips to the free throw line as well. 

With Cheeks at the helm, many times Iguodala would drive into a quadruple team and turn the ball over or put up an errant shot.  It’s not happening anymore.  Iguodala didn’t deserve two of his three turnovers in the game.  One of his passes was fumbled by Green while another was kicked by Houston but not called.
 
Thaddeus Young scored 8 points and grabbed 6 rebounds but had one monster dunk off of an Iguodala missed dunk
– it’s in the pic.
 
But Speights came in and after a couple mistakes following rebounds, was ridiculous.  Speights made an amazing layup with the foul and converted the free throw.  The Rockets tried to score quickly getting the ball ahead to PG Aaron Brooks.  Brooks seemed to have an easy layup but Speights raced back and blocked the shot, leading to a Lou Williams three-pointer. 

Speights’ shot was going as well, deadly from around 18 feet.  The Rocket play-by-play announcers had an abundance of compliments for young Marreese on their telecast.
 
Another Sixer who played well was Royal Ivey.  He was brought onto the team in the offseason for defensive purposes, but made a few nice shots against Houston and finished with seven points.  Ivey has made 5 of 8 shots (3 three-pointers) in his last four games with the Sixers.
 
Lou Williams has been a thorn in the side of several teams, and Houston was not an exception.  Williams gets fouled several times because of his quickness and can be a huge asset for this team if they need to get the other team into the penalty as quickly as possible.
 
Brand should be returning to the Sixers in a few weeks.  Hopefully Di Leo will be able to figure out how to blend him in with the current improving group. 
 
If the rest of the league has to deal with an explosive Sixers team with Brand, it won’t just be Houston with a problem.

Dave said all that you need on Sixers’ side, and I agree pretty much on everything (the interesting thing – for you S4G readers – between me and Dave is that we don’t always agree, and you’ll see this). I would add some things to his analysis and try to complete the picture.

1) THIS Tracy Mc Grady is not an elite NBA player. Forget the boxscore, he had eight points in the first quarter and then passed the whole night missing outside (long) shots and trying to set up his team mates – which he did well. The shadow not only of his former self but also of a good player.

I felt actually sad to see him in that condition. He has no explosiveness, never beats the man off the dribble, is clearly hesitant in taking the ball to the rim and if the outisde shot is not falling down, he might even be detrimental to the team in certain nights. Why he logged on so many minutes, especially since he just came off a long injury, is beyond me.

2) like David said, one of the keys of the game was limiting Yao. He had his second field goal of the night only at the end of the third quarter. 

Theo was outstanding on him but I have to say last night also Dalembert played a half-decent game –  at least for his current standards… – having a couple of good plays in the third (alley oop dunk + very nice assist to Young), when Sixers went on a run. He did pick two fouls three minutes after the tip off, and was immediately pulled out, though.

3) free throw shooting was ATROCIOUS and it could have costed us the game: the two Andres and Thad all went 0/2 once, and Lou Williams (75% for the season) missed four of eight. I really don’t know what to say, we were 28th out of 30 teams in the NBA before the game and now we are ranked 29th (!!) with a pathetic 73.5% as a team.

SO TODAY WE ARE LAST IN NBA IN THREE POINT SHOOTING AND SECOND LAST IN FREE THROW SHOOTING !!!

Again, the thing that is totally driving me nuts, it’s that the perimeter players are missing a large part of those foul shots, not the Reggie Evanses and the Ratliffs of this world. Evans is actually over 50% this year (!), and shooting a lot less than last season due to his limited minutes…

Anyway it was a very good W, at the end of a total team effort (ten players saw action, all scored, and the one playing less got ten minutes). I liked the rotations also. When even Willie Green is playing under control, taking good shots, there is nothing else you could ask for. 

SIXERS4GUIDOS’ BONUS STATS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS: How about our 7/16 from the line at halftime ???? – We play the Bucks tonight in the second night of a back-to-back. Don’t forget to take a look at what Alex and Frank tell us about Milwaukee at Brew Hoop Speights scored nine points on 4/6 shooting to go with six boards and two (huge) blocks in the second quarter. Pretty impressive – Easier to win when your two point guards combine for 16 dimes – I think we ended the game with like 29 fastbreak points, maybe more. Rockets had four.

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