Last night was nice. There were tons of concerns for the Sixers going into the game and though we still have much to worry about, a win against the division rival Boston Celtics to retain control of the Atlantic Division eases my worries a bit. Evan Turner still needs to re-find his role, Tony Battie needs to re-find the bench, and the offense wasn't quite as phenomenal as we were giving them credit last night.
Jordan, from the recap:
I don't have access to Hoop Data's advanced box score at the moment, but I imagine the Sixers attempted significantly more shots at the rim than they normally do (21 per game). They also scored 46 points in the paint – up 11 from their season average – and attempted 18 free throws. And all this came against the third best defensive team in the league.
They did take 28 shots at the rim last night, way up from the season average, but still chucked up a startling 32 shots from 16-23 feet. Most of them came within the flow of the offense and were not too offensive, but it is still cause for concern. When the Sixers can get to the basket at will, as they could last night, they need to be going after it again and again and again. Or, conversely, they need to be taking one step back and shooting a three.
We can't reiterate enough that long two's are the worst shot in basketball. When 35% of your shots come from that area (even though they shot 41% - a solid number), you're going to be unsuccessful more often than not. Because the Sixers were making shots - particularly Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young - passing the ball extremely well, and not turning it over, they managed to pull ahead in the 3rd quarter and win a tough game. But the long two philosophy is something that needs to go. The only team that attempts more of them per game is the anemic Charlotte Bobcats. Not exactly a model of success.
Other than that, it was a very Sixers win. Stay close, play solid D, wait for the other team to finally miss some shots, and get after some offensive rebounds. They stayed confident and stuck to the gameplan throughout to pull off a very solid win. Thad and Elton played especially awesome. Spence looked good as well. Another team effort will be needed because the Spurs await them tomorrow.
In injury news, Mickael Pietrus may have a concussion but has been cleared by team doctors to travel and be seen by the medical staff upon his return to Boston. That didn't look good at all. We wish him a quick recovery.