This game was a big one for the Sixers. The defending NBA champions were coming to town for a nationally televised primetime game on the worldwide leader. This was a game which the Sixers had a chance to show the casual fan around the country that they are a team that deserves to be in conversations about the league's best. With a double-digit lead and playing as a good a half as anyone could hope, it certainly looked like they would convert the naysayers. Unfortunately, the NBA made them play the second half; the worst second half of the season for this Sixer squad. Behind a terrible offensive philosophy and a one-man onslaught courtesy Dirk Nowitzki, the Sixers lost the double-digit lead and eventually the game, 82-75.
The Sixers came out with a ton of energy, moving the ball around effectively and getting open looks in the process on the offensive end. Defensively they forced the Mavericks outside the paint and held them to under 35% from the field for the half. It was the typical Sixers basketball that we've gotten used to all season; active hands defensively, forcing contested jumpers, getting out on fast breaks off turnovers and rebounds, ball movement, knocking down shots. The Sixers rode this effort all the way to a 14-point halftime lead and judging from the way they played that half, I thought there was no chance they'd squander it.
I never knew how wrong I could be.
Remember how I said the good things the Sixers did in the first half were the good things we've seen all season? If you don't, you have a bad memory because it's about 5 sentences ago. Well anyway, everything they did in the second half on the offensive side of the ball were the exact issues that we've had and been complaining about since Drake was only known as Aubrey Graham, star of Degrassi (okay, maybe not that long). And the worst part about it, coach Doug Collins doesn't seemed the least bit concerned with those factors.
Rantiness after the jump.
It's no secret, the biggest reason for this Sixers lost tonight was because their offense was non-existant throughout the entire second half. Even with a half-decent effort on that end of the floor, their defense was good enough to win this game even with Dirk's 24 point outburst. If we've said it once, we've said ten bagillion times; settling for long jumpshots is not an efficient offense. Throughout the first third of the season, the Sixers were able to dodge the percentages bullet by hitting these long two-point jumpshots at rate that seemed unsustainable at the time. That was, as predicted, unsustainable.
The fact of the matter is teams will not always be hitting their jumpshots. If it happened to Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, and Ray Allen throughout their careers then it would surely happen to Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams, Jodie Meeks, and the rest of the Sixers. Unfortunately, the Sixers rely on them as a majority of their offense, setting themselves up for eventual failure; a failure the Sixers realized tonight against the Mavericks.
On a night when the jumpers weren't falling, the Sixers had great opportunities to take the ball to the basket as the Mavericks don't posses a true defensive threat in the middle now that Tyson Chandler is in New York. Did this thought cross the team or coach's mind? It sure didn't look like it. Possession after possession the Sixers settled for jumpshots, many ill-advised and early in the shot clock; the same offensive mentality that quickly took them out of the Heat game two weeks ago. The shooting was so terrible that Holiday and Andre Iguodala combined to hit zero shots on ten attempts while perennial "4th-quarter closer" Lou connected on just two of his ten shots.
We've seen it all year but we've only seen it be their downfall a few times. The early and often success of the Sixers jumpshooting was both a gift and curse (not the Blueprint II). While it was nice that they were hitting these shots, it's apparent that not only the players, but the coach is now content with that philosophy. There's no fancy way to put it, this scares me.
During his post-game press conference, Doug Collins was asked about the Sixers' second half offensive struggles. His answer, while not word for word, was that sometimes shot don't fall. He said he liked the shots the Sixers were getting but they just weren't finding their way in the net. Not once did he mention that he wished his team would have given up on the jumper and taken the ball to the basket more. Not once did he proclaim that they needed more ball movement to eventually find an open guy. If the coach is content with the shots they took, there's little hope for us in the camp that are pleading for them to take the ball to the rack more.
The second half offensive philosophy and effort disgusted me. It lost the Sixers the game tonight, and will lose them games against quality opponents in the future. While their defense is good enough to beat bad to average teams on its own, it won't work agains the top tier teams. The Sixers need to adopt a more efficient offensive attack, one that involves shot attempts close to the rim and free throws, in order to beat the NBA's best.
A few things that aren't ranty:
- I thought Thaddeus Young gave a great effort defensively against Dirk, one of the toughest players to defend in the world. Thad had a body on him, got a hand up, and never gave him sufficient room. While his physicality with Dirk cause him to foul out (although at least 3 of those were not fouls), I liked his mentality on Nowitzki throughout. Not only that, but made a silky smooth pass to Nikola Vucevic in the first half that was the easily the best pass of his career.
- Speaking of Vucevic, the rook played a very nice game, connecting on 7 of his 8 shot attempts. There was a stretch in the first half (of course) where Vuce was getting open off rolls to the basket every possession. I'm not sure why Collins went away from him in the fourth quarter because he was easily the most effective big for the Sixers tonight. His rookie boytoy Lavoy Allen was also pretty good tonight. While he didn't get many looks at the rim, he rebounded extremely well. In just 20 minutes of action, Lavoy grabbed double-digit (10) boards and a few tips that went as rebounds for the guard on the receiving end.
- Jrue Holiday played his worst game of the entire season. In 30+ minutes, Jrue missed all 9 shot attempts, took just 2 free throws, and had only two assists. If it wasn't a fact before, it is now; Jrue Holiday has regressed this season. I love you Jrue. Please turn this around.
- I sort of fell in love with Dominique Jones tonight and I'm fully aware that it's because his offensive attack was everything I wanted the Sixers guards to do. If he had the room, Jones was going full-steam ahead to the basket. If the defender was sagging, he'd shoot the jumper. The only thing that kept me from all out proposing to him was his 5 turnovers.
- If this wasn't enough "rant" for you, have no fear. Rumor has it Mike will be in full TAFKA mode later on. Look for it tomorrow.
- I'm currently staying in on a Friday night, being all disgusted by a basketball team and waiting in "internet line" for the new Jordan IV Cement's. Lame.
The Sixers look to get this loss out of their minds as they hit the road to do battle with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. We'll get our first look at Ricky Rubio! Have a great weekend, guys! I'll be chillin' in Javale McGee country so I'll tell him you guys said what's up if I see him.