Every time the Sixers have face an inferior opponent at home this season, the outcome ended with a double digit Sixer win. Going into tonight's game against the Nets, there was no reason to believe that this wouldn't be the case yet again. Apparently the Sixers thought the same thing as they came out flat and lackadaisical, eventually leading to an overtime loss to New Jersey.
Getting off to a slow start, the Sixers found themselves down 4 after the first quarter. Seeing as bad first quarters has been a trend for this team, I didn't put much stock into it and figured they'd make a run in the second and run away in the third like they normally do. Although they continued to struggle on the boards, the Sixers made a small run in the second quarter courtesy the offensive efforts of the Marc Zumoff trademarc'd (see what I did there?) Night Shift. The Sixers escaped, and I do mean escaped, the first half up two despite giving up 9 offensive rebounds to Kris Humphries (ended with a season-high 19 boards) and the Nets. Playing as poorly as they did, I was content with any sort of haltime lead figuring we'd see a turnaround in the second half. I was wrong.The second half saw more see-saw action as there was lead change after lead change heading into the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The Sixers had every chance to pull away but it seemed like every time the opportunity presented itself, it would followed by a bad offensive set or an inability to capitalize on an open opportunity. The constant back and forth lead to the Sixers controlling possession with less than 30 seconds remaining. Now, anybody who knows anything about this team knew what was coming, especially in a night when ball movement was at a minimum. Lou dribbled around the top of the key and pulled up for as long of a two pointer that physically possible to take. As he stared Mike down, Lou promptly drilled the shot, causing many Sixers fans to book a victory. Then, Deron Williams happened. Much like last week against the Nuggets, a point guard with odd-looking hair took over for the opposition. Deron (can't say Williams because there are far too many on that team) took advantage of a Sixers switch and made a great hesitation move to get to the basket relatively uncontested to tie up the game, sending it to overtime.
Overtime was more of the same for the Sixers. Too much dribbling on the offensive side and too much Deron Williams ended up finalizing the outcome. Deron was able to seal the Nets victory with stepback 3 that touched nothing but cotton (a shot I imagine Lou being extremely jealous that he didn't hit it).
There were two factors in this game that I believe to be the main reasons why the Sixers weren't able to come out with a win: stagnant offense and allowing the Nets to have extra possession via offensive rebounds. Of course, a big reason for the Sixers getting killed on the boards was due to the lack of Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic. While they may not be the world's best rebounders, they'd certainly have done a better job than a front court of Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young, who both had little to no interest in boxing out anyone in a red jersey. The leading rebounders on the night were Jodie Meeks and Evan Turner. Having two guards lead the team in rebounding is like a football team having two cornerbacks lead the team in tackling; when it happens, you're team probably isn't rebounding very well.
The offense was stagnant far too often tonight as the Sixers felt dribbling around and taking long two's and other forced jumpers would be far more effective than moving the ball agains the NBA's worst ranked defensive team. Being the league's number one team in offensive efficiency, the Sixers should have had very little issues in putting up points agains the worst defense. With exception of a couple nice finds from Lou and Jrue (especially late in the game when the Nets decided they'd double Lou at halfcourt), there were very little set-ups at the basket for the Sixers to capitalize on.
This was the type of game that an elite team ends up winning despite playing poorly for the majority of the contest. The Sixers were unable to do this against the lesser Nets. Uninspired play and a lack of boxing out allowed the Nets to stick around and eventually come away with a road win. Personally, I'm not going to put much into tonight's loss. The Sixers were without two big men that have given them quality, and in Hawes' case above average, minutes when they've been active. Deron Williams went beast mode in the fourth quarter and overtime. Shawne Williams banked in a half-court shot that was clocked at 98 miles per hour. With any sort of defensive rebounding or effective offensive sets, the Sixers win this game.
A few things:
- Jrue Holiday made one trip to the free throw line, this coming in overtime. He continues to settle for the long 2's and pull-up jumpers. While he has been hitting this at a pretty nice rate, he'd be far more dangerous taking the ball to the basket. In addition, he was not particularly strong defensively on Deron. Antoher less than impressive game from Jay-Rue.
- With the good comes the bad in regards to Lou Williams. Yes he drained the pull-up jumper towards the end of regulation. Yes he hit an off-balanced floater in overtime. But with those, he also took a horrible three at the end of overtime. With plenty of time left to get a quick two and foul to stay in it, Lou jacked up a corner three that clanked off the rim.
- Is it just me or did Evan Turner get fouled every time he went to the basket, only getting the call one time?
- I successfully wrote this recap without making a lame/lazy attempt at a Kardashian joke.
We'll be back at it Friday night against a team that got wrecked by the Flip Saunders-less Wizards in the Charlotte Bobcats. The Sixers need to capitalize against the inferior teams, especially with a tough stretch of games starting next week.