1. Preventing a letdown
So I decided not to copy/paste the keys either yesterday’s game the last Raptors game preview (aside from Andrea Bargnani missing the game, everything will be the same – here’s a link if you want that information). Instead, taking into consideration the lineup change, I want to look at what to expect in this circumstance.
Jodie Meeks and Nikola Vucevic returned to the starting lineup, as many of you saw last night. The switch seemingly worked as the Sixers won, though the new starters (and the whole starting lineup in general) played poorly. The struggles might be because our two best scorers come off the bench, and no one in our starting five can be relied upon for scoring because our offense is in the toilet, but that’s beside the point.
Anyway, the Raptors are even more reliant now on D-Leaguers and 10-days. This would be quite the epic meltdown if the Sixers lose.
2. Turner’s body language
I usually don’t like going into player psychology. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t know the players and what they are thinking, and I try not to pretend to. I don’t believe in clutch genes and the like. But Evan Turner seemed, to me, to be the target of Doug’s rant on the “fickle” and “sensitive” nature of today’s players. He played better as a starter than as a reserve, but the team didn’t improve. So he goes back to the bench, his minutes cut, his future even cloudier. He didn’t respond well statistically, nor did he seem to be happy.
There’s a few ways to respond to adversity, like getting benched when you feel you should be a starter. Usually, the response involves how the player channels anger. Spencer Hawes seemingly used it as motivation, playing hard the entire game, getting to the foul line and having his best game post-injury in limited minutes. He felt he had something to prove. Evan has a different response – he tends to sulk and get frustrated when things don’t go his way. You can tell he wants to do well, but it doesn’t seem as if he wants to prove people wrong – he just wants to play his game.
I don’t expect him to react well to a demotion. Nor do I really want him to. But I would like him to stand up, accept what’s happened, and use that motivation to get better.
3. Foul shooting
The Sixers are a team of extremes. An extremely strong start, extreme struggles in the clutch and against bad teams, extremely good defense, extremely turnover-cognizant, and extremely foul-resistant. The last is one of the more extreme – the Sixers get to the free throw line less than any team in history. They instead settle for so many 18 footers so as to make them sad to watch offensively.
Free throws and foul shots are interchangeable terms, but the Sixers take a large percentage of “foul” shots – ones that don’t go in because of where they are taken from. 18 footers, this team’s specialty, need to be avoided in order to improve our largely stagnant offense. Getting free throws, instead of “foul” shots, will help last night’s offensive output continue into the future.