As I like to say, I don’t really like to do game recaps. However, this isn’t as much a recap as a search for the most pressing concern following a loss, a loss that will prevent the Sixers from reaching the .500 mark before the all-star break. We’ll go through this in steps.
First, because we’ll be using it, a box score from tonight’s game, via ESPN. More on this later.
Second, through watching the game and perusing the box scores, several individual performances (good and bad) jump out. Three of the most notable:
- Andre Iguodala – off-game with just 9-7-4 (pts-reb-ast) and 4 turnovers. Went just 2-7 from the floor. Andre was off all night and was visibly flustered with Tony Allen, whose defense was outstanding.
- Evan Turner – 2-2-1 in 27 minutes and a -20 while on the court. Went just 1-7 from the floor. Lacked any positive impact on the game, a step backward from his previous performances.
- Mike Conley – 22 points, all in the second half, carrying the offense as Rudy Gay left with an injury.
Third, some key team stats:
- Turnovers – The Sixers committed 17 turnovers to the Grizzlies 7. Not including the points scored off of turnovers (which usually totals more than points scored off of shot misses or makes), the 10 possession difference based on turnovers put the Sixers in a bad position. Even though it was mitigated some by a rebounding advantage (+7 for the Sixers), the difference was still huge, especially since the Sixers entered the game averaging just 13 turnovers.
- 10 – the first quarter point total for the Sixers. It’s hard to succeed when being outscored by 16 in the first quarter.
- Assist-to-Turnover Ratio – The Sixers had 14 assists and 17 turnovers. Rarely will a team win when committing more turnovers than assists. This ties into the turnover point, but focuses on the lack of successful ball movement overall.
So anyway, based on those, sloppy ball-handling and the bad first quarter will likely dominate the headlines and recaps, since it’s the point that originally jumps out at us.
But I don’t think any of these things were the most influential cause of the loss. What I want to focus on is something that’s included in the box score, but not focused on at the individual level.
Look at the bottom corner of the Grizzlies box score, underneath the point total. What do you see that jumps out?
That would be Points in the Paint. The Grizzlies scored 58 points in the paint. 58. Let that sink in for a minute.
Generally, according to HoopsStats.com (you’ll have to search within the link), the Sixers allow 39 points in the paint per game, which is 20th in the NBA. The worst team, Toronto, gives up 43 on average, which is awful. 58 is worse than awful – it’s inexplicable. What’s amazing in retrospect is that Memphis didn’t win by more.
The lesson of all this – we need a real center, one that actually can defend the paint. And that while I may talk myself into bad ideas (like signing Darko Milicic), the ideas come with good reason.