This game was a matchup between the two best teams in the league at taking care of the basketball. So naturally, they combined for 39 turnovers and a few cherry danishes in a mostly ugly display of half-strength basketball. The San Antonio Spurs were without Tim Duncan, Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter, Sean Elliott, and Topanga Lawrence, while the Sixers withheld Andre Iguodala from game action due to a sore knee. Not a terrible plan considering the Spurs don't have any stellar wing players save for the mostly-injured Manu Ginobili. In a shortened season, a day off once in a while isn't the worst idea.
The first half was quite impressive even though they weren't leading by the end of it. The Sixers could get to the basket whenever they'd like, and although they didn't hit too many, it was a sign of good things to come. Defense was showing well also, the hands were quick and the rotations fairly crisp, save for a few Matt Bonner three's (happens). The end of the first quarter and beginning of the second saw the Spurs get around 4 points. It was great. Had I not known the final score upon watching, my mind would have drifted to winnier pastures.
But alas, the second half happens. And it happened right in the Sixers faces. The Spurs would outscore them by 14 points in the second and won by a final of 93-76. After the jump, you'll find some observations. Observe them.
- How good has Elton Brand's midrange game been lately? He and Jrue are the only semi-bright spots of the recent loss parade. This is as good as he's going to get at his age so when there's any offense coming from EB, take it and say thank you.
- I'm putting an arrest warrant out for Tony Parker. He's a push-off jerk. I'd like to shove him right in the chest. Only 21 and 7 in the game.
- Evan Turner really likes the baseline fadeaway jumper. Something about his body trajectory and lean angles make him especially deadly from the spot. We need some sort of Pavlovian test to trick him into thinking every shot is that shot.
- Louis Williams can get to the basket but he'd prefer stopping about 5 feet short of the next defender and take an off-leg running floater. I don't know why layups don't appeal to him. Someone should inquire.
- Speaking of Lou, he was awful. Sometimes shots don't fall, but he's got such bad shot selection already that when those shots DON'T go in, it makes him unbearable and worthless. The 32-footer with 3 seconds left in the half was especially Bossy.
- Turner again. Dude loved the transition jumper against the Spurs. The J has been sweeter lately but he's been the victim of some toilet bowling. I counted three shots that rattled around the rim multiple times before falling out. He could have easily been 8-11. A few foul calls on those drives and we're talking about a major game. Sometimes the bounces go your way, and sometimes you're goose poop.
- DeJuan Blair is a monster. If he could get to the line more, he'd be a stud.
- Sam Young did a lot of things! Not all of them were good, but they were all things. Two dunks! So that's encouraging. He'll get more comfortable and be more serviceable in Dre's absence in due time. Sure he will.
- Assisting Spencer Hawes came out but scoring Hawes stayed at home. He tried the bank a buncha times in Timmy's absence but the San Antonio backboards are sensitive to only the Duncan touch. He'll be hot and cold until he's at full strength.
- Thaddeus Young may have played tonight. He may not have. No one could know for sure.
- If he's here to stretch the floor, Jodie Meeks had better start hitting some three's. Danny Green and Matt Bonner both out-Bonner'd him from beyond. 1-3 isn't enough, Jodes.
- Not enough transition plays. Only 16.2% of the time for a 50% score rate. They're normally good isolation-wise (Boss), but only a 33.3% score rate in this one. That'll do it. And all the passing that we beamed about against the Celtics went away. No more backcutting. Just 9% of plays on cuts and a 20% score rate.
- The Sixers did manage to stop the Spurs pick-and-roll (27 times for a 0.74 points per possession) and they went cold from beyond the arc (7-28), but the turnovers, foul shots, and the Sixers 1-9 3PT shooting proved excessive in the 2nd half.
- In the NBA.com box score, Duncan was listed as a "DNP - OLD". Popovich bein' Popovich, that rascal.
They fall to 27-22 and just a half game up on the Celtics, who cruised over the Wiz tonight, in the Atlantic. A few winnable games ahead, including the Cavs on Tuesday and a back-to-back of the Wizards and Hawks after a two day rest. Miami lingers on the other side of that set. Taking all three of those games would be HUGE going into a stretch where Miami, Orlando, and Boston await. But the way the Sixers are playing, it doesn't look good.
Rest that knee, Andre.