It sometimes felt as if the Sixers wanted to play basketball. They had energy at some times and made the right rotations and did some generally good things, which gave us hope.
Of course, all that hope really does is reel us in so that we can get punched in the gut with such force that all the life and energy we have escapes us, leaving us in a bitter mood during what should be a wonderful time of the year, possibly spent with family and usually laced with candy.
The Sixers, yet again, let a very winnable game slip from their collective grasp, as a short-handed, turmoil-ridden Orlando team came into town and won, 88-82.
Dwight Howard had a good game, as despite struggling from the floor he performed rather well from the foul line. He played 44 minutes, including all but 21 seconds of the second half, with a back injury. You take your chances with him – if he hits the foul shots, he hits them. He was not the ultimate reason for the loss because we knew what damage he could cause- the inability to stop Glen Davis and J.J. Redick was the main reason. When each of these players lights the defense up for double digit quarters (Davis had 15 in the third, Redick had 11 in the fourth), you have issues. Jodie Meeks and Andre Iguodala could not contain a backup shooting guard. Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand could not contain a mediocre backup power forward. It’s ridiculous that this “all-time great” defense can’t do anything to stop these players.
And then there’s the offense. Good God do we suck. Our guards have no ability to blow by their defenders. None. We have a complete deficiency of players who can actually dribble the ball into the freaking paint. No one can make a single play. Jrue Holiday looks like a zombie – he had zero assists in the game, despite playing for half of it. Evan Turner goes from breakout game to complete abomination more quickly than you can say “Derrick Favors”. He had one assist and went 3-8 from the floor. And Lou Williams looks afraid of the paint. He instead settles for shots like contested PUJITs with 20 seconds on the shot clock. At this point, Jodie Meeks is creating more offense by running off the ball than these three have with the basketball in their hands. It’s pathetic.
Instead, our primary shot creator is our small forward, Andre Iguodala, who looks awfully bad when he can’t hit more than a single jumper. It’s not like he can break the defense down, either – his handle isn’t the greatest when he’s actually defended by someone in a halfcourt situation.
Meanwhile, Spencer Hawes‘ shooting has fallen off a cliff, as his 55% midrange shooting number pre-injury was obviously a fluke. Elton Brand is still trying, bless his heart – he’s the one Sixers who we can say had a good game. Well, and Thaddeus Young had a good offensive game at least, he just gave it all back up when he played defense, making Big Baby look more than competent.
As you can tell, losses and poor play are getting to everyone. Collins is hinting at lineup changes. Whispers of player unrest are badgering the team. Some players are bashing others in “national sporting publications”. And fans like us are getting tired. Nothing has changed from our expectations, except hope. Hope for the team was at its highest point since the Iverson years. Now, the kingdom of hope has fallen apart, reality has set it, and our guts are in more pain than I can ever remember.