Hey guys, I wanted to start a new feature that runs weekly, and goes over the Sixers prior week in depth. The name of it is the week in review, and hopefully it won’t be as boring as games being decided off free throws with a tenth of a second left. So, that’s that for the intro, now we’ll examine the Sixers week.
This was a pretty bad week for the Sixers. The Sixers failed to beat an NBA team this week, going 0-3, after an early week win over NBA D-League opponents the Charlotte Bobcats. It’s the first time the 7-6 have had a three game losing streak this year, and none of the losses were really particularly encouraging losses. After the jump, we’ll look at all of the losses and the “win” over Charlotte.
So, first we look at the win over Charlotte, and it wasn’t very pretty. Considering they were playing D-League (Sorry, I’ll stop) competition in Charlotte, the win was less than convincing, and they also started their bizarre trend of being outscored in the third quarter, a quarter they previously dominated. At the half, the Sixers were up by ten, and fans probably expected the usual third quarter pull away that has been so prevalent this year. Instead, the offense stagnated, and Charlotte was able to trim the deficit to four going into the final quarter, and it took the Sixers a little longer than that to finally put the game out of reach. Just to show how bad Charlotte is, this loss extended the Bobcats losing streak that eventually reached sixteen games, which is about half of their season so far.
Still, this game wasn’t exactly a bad sign. The Sixers won on the road without their best stuff, which is one of the marks of a good team. No, the week would take a turn for the worse two nights later at the hand of the most popular NBA trade machine team, the Orlando Magic.
The Sixers, if you can remember, beat the Magic by five at home a couple weeks ago, and the game wasn’t nearly as close as the score. The Magic couldn’t get anything going offensively, and were smothered by the D of the Sixers.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t two weeks ago, and the Magic came out of the gates raining three’s, as they went on a 23-4 run to open the game. The run was as much about the Magic’s shooting as it was the 76ers play, but when the Magic are shooting like that, you cannot allow them to shoot threes. I mean, in that situation, it would really make sense to make Dwight Howard beat you one on one, just like the Hawks did in last year’s playoffs. Howard can go off as much as he wants, but it’s pretty simple math: When the Magic move the ball well, they can get three pointers worth three points, and when Dwight Howard posts up Lavoy Allen, he can get two points. 3>2, so that’s how the decision would work, I would think. However, hindsight’s 20-20, and it would have been hard for the Sixers to realize the Magic would’ve been that good in the beginning.
As you can imagine, it was hard for the Sixers to dig out of that whole, and despite getting the game close a couple of times, they never really threatened the Magic lead. For example, the closest the Sixers got was six points before the half, and immediately after that the Magic went on a 10-0 run to go to the half up sixteen. The Magic pretty much rolled in the second half, and that was that.
Still, it wasn’t that bad a loss. Like one Magic player said, when the Magic play the way they did against the Sixers, they’re a top five team, even though that level from the Magic is becoming increasingly rare. Two nights later, the Sixers week really got bad.
Now, losing to the Mavericks isn’t necessarily a bad loss, but on Friday night it was. The Mavs were missing several of their rotation players, with Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois, and Delonte West all out for various reasons. A couple Mavs stars were awful in the first half, with Shawn “Matrix” Marion and Dirk Nowitzki both really, really off. The Sixers went to half with a fourteen point lead, and looked poised to really pull away in the second half. However, just like the Bobcats game the third quarter was again a problem, this time a gigantic problem. The Sixers offense stopped completely, and they scored just eight points as the Mavs erased the halftime lead and took a lead to the fourth, where Nowitzki took over and finally started to play well, giving the Mavs the come from behind win.
This was a big blow for the Sixers for a couple of reasons. Number one, it was the only home game that they’ll play out of eight games, and number two, they had a chance to get a confidence lifting win on national TV over the defending champs, and blew it. They blew it because in the second half they got tentative on offense and stopped moving the ball and cutting to the basket, two features usually critical to the Sixers having a good offense. The Sixers also relied on far too many long jumpers on a night that they weren’t falling, going just 1 of 14 from 3.
But still, the Sixers could still salvage something from the week with a 2-2 record if they went to Minnesota and beat a mediocre T-Wolves team. That odds of that happening looked pretty good in the first half, as the Sixers were obviously the better team, but they let Minnesota hang around by missing some easy shots, and were made to pay by the refs Timberwolves in the third and fourth quarter. The offense struggled in the fourth and Minnesota got going at the free throw line. This wasn’t really the Sixers fault, as Minnesota benefited from some very dubious calls, but the offensive problems were, and the Sixers are going to have to fix their second half offense going forward.
Still, it feels as though this game came down to one pretty poor call at the end of the game. After getting the inbound, Kevin Love drove toward the basket, and as he went by Andre Iguodala, Dre’ reached for the ball. It probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but he got the ball, and didn’t really get Love’s arm. After that Love threw up a shot blocked by Elton Brand, and the buzzer still didn’t sound, with the clock stuck at 0.1 seconds. That was because a reach was called on Andre Iguodala in the act of shooting. This was poor for several reasons. One, Iggy didn’t commit a foul, and two, the refs kept 0.1 seconds on the clock. Clearly, if Love could shoot after the “foul” without the buzzer going off, then the foul occurred earlier. But apparently, the refs didn’t want to get the facts, you know, correct, and left the 0.1 seconds on the clock. Love sank both free throws, and the rest is history.
Now, understandably, Doug Collins wasn’t too happy about the call. In fact, and I am not a professional lip reader, but at the end of the game it appeared Doug went up to the ref and said to him,” You happy?” He also said other things I couldn’t make out, but let’s just say that they weren’t pleasantries, and he kept talking until Lou Williams had to drag him away. After the game, Collins only said, “We are four stops away from 24 wins. We played four games like that and lost all four. We lost to Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Andre Miller and [Kevin Love] today. It’s a shame.” It is true, but this time it is very probable that the Sixers did get that “stop” he was referring to.
So, that does it for our first week in review. I will now go vent silently over that call, and leave you with this tidbit of the week from John Hollinger, to go along with the “I’m angry at the refs” theme:
“If I ever play in the NBA I’m grabbing my eye and stopping twice a game. Ref will call a foul even if he didn’t see it.”