Rose vs. Armpit
I'm this close to doing another one of these recaps, but in the interest of freshness, I'll refrain. Derrick Rose was amazing tonight as he propelled his Bulls over the panicking Sixers in Philly. He is not a good jump shooter, but he was completely locked in tonight, nailing 4-7 three's and 12 of his 23 shots to a 35-point evening on the road. Nobody else on the Bulls, save for maybe C.J. Watson of all people, impacted the game even remotely on the offensive end. It was all D-Rose all the time. And with plays like this, you just have to tip your cap to one of the best players in the game.
It was another instance where the 4th quarter was a major issue, with the Sixers finding themselves down 13 points in the 4th after being tied going into it. The main culprit of this is the halfcourt offense, which is hilariously bad down the stretch game in and game out. The Long Two Offense (LTO) was in full effect, with culprits like Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams, and Andre Iguodala mainly responsible. Even though the defense was solid (if not spectacular, you can only do so much against Rose) and the trapping mostly worked, they didn't get enough opportunities in the open court to mask just how awful they are in the half-court. And a few costly mistakes later, the Sixers fell to 6-12 on the season against teams .500 or above (the Knicks lost tonight, otherwise it'd be 6-13).
Most importantly, the Sixers haven't beaten a good team since February 6th against the Lakers. Time to worry yet?
- Doug Collins is an absolute sweetheart, but I strongly dislike the way he coaches during the game, especially in the 4th. Though I will say this for him tonight: he did leave Evan Turner in the game for 23 minutes because he was playing pretty terrific defense despite having relatively poor shot selection throughout the game. Good for Doug.
- Speaking of Evan, I can't wait for him to be good. Can't wait. There were a few shots tonight that felt like he had everything under control, but otherwise he is one of two people: the guy who brings the ball up the court and looks to take the ball to the basket and nothing else, or the guy who will defer to his teammates instantly. He's got to keep his options open every time up the court, otherwise he's extremely predictable and won't get the foul calls he should get on his drives. Middling game for ET. Couple jump shots though!
- Andre was great, though less efficient than we've been recently accustomed on the scoring front. An awful lot of jumpers were hoisted, and two of them missed by a foot. Unfortunately, one of those was on a game-tying three with 3.5 seconds left. Not sure why Dre felt the need to unload an off-balance three over two defenders when there was time to pass or, you know, dribble around them, but that's kind of the team's thing. When the game is on the line, tighten up every limb and panic uncontrollably. When he was on Rose, he was phenomenal. Started to get a bit lazy on the rotations out of the double-team later on in the game, but that happens when you play a guy 40 minutes each night.
- Another mixed game from Jrue Holiday, although he had three of the best passes I've seen him throw all season in the 4th quarter. A couple to Thad on gorgeous cuts to the basket that made me stand up and pound my chesticles. And a transition dunk that also got me to my feet. I love it when Jrue does good things. That being said, he played hot and cold defense on Rose (to be expected) and didn't attack enough. Too many long jumpers and another 0fer from the foul line. 16 points on 18 shots won't do it.
- Can we say the Lavoy Allen Starting Experiment (LASE) is over yet? He's been awful in 4 of his last 5 games and hasn't had a free throw attempt since February 10th. I've taken more than he has. Let's just start Nikola Vucevic and play him 25 minutes already.
- Vuce had some silky jumpers tonight and flashed a few post moves that tickled my eyeballs. But he also didn't get to the line and allowed far too many Joakim Noah offensive rebounds that groin-kicked the Sixers on 7 occasions. Would like to see the bigs draw some contact, obviously.
- Elton Brand. I don't know what to think of him. Let's just call it what it is, he's had a terrific season defensively. Just phenomenal. I don't know where it came from, because he's been solid all his career but this year is like All-NBA Defense conversation we're talking about. The Sixers wouldn't be anywhere without his D. That being said, his offense is spotty at best. The jumper is permanently short and the shot selection is befuddling. Liability-esque at times. I don't know what to do with him, really. Great game for him on the boards tonight though.
- As you can tell from the box score, Louis Williams was terrible tonight. I don't blame him though, because the shots he took tonight are the same ones he always does (off-balance long two's), they just didn't fall. That happens. He managed not to be completely offense-crashing because he only took 7 shots (missing all) and made a few extremely nifty passes, tacking 7 assists onto 0 turnovers that'll get him onto Doug's fridge. Pretty sweet block early on, too. LWHAI holds steady at magenta.
- Jodie Meeks was bad. Gotta hit shots Jodie, or you're about as useless as Doug's whiteboard. The possession where he took what felt like 42 shots in a row (rushed, off-balance) was especially memorable.
- Thad was awesome, God bless that kid. He had a few timely shoves on the glass that went uncalled and pulled in 9 boards (4 offensive, /Thad'd) in addition to the great cuts I alluded to earlier and good D on Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. He was all over it in the 4th.
- I was wrong about Tony Battie getting minutes tonight. Sorry guys.
- Hamilton and Deng! Obviously!
- I miss Spencer Hawes so hard. WHERE ARE YOU WIGHT?!
Listen, nothing that has happened lately is surprising. The Sixers have done an awesome job winning the games they should, and that is absolutely commendable. They just don't know how to close. I put most of that blame on Collins, as I've said, but at some point the shots just have to start falling. They will, I promise. But as of now, the Sixers are 0-6 in games decided by five points or less and, dating back to last season, they are 14-33 in games decided by 7 points or less. Collins does a great job coaching to his personnel's strengths for most of the game, but during the fourth quarter, he goes away from what they're best at.
All in all, the Sixers took the best team in the league down to the last shot. Nothing to be ashamed of, just more of the same. They've got Milwaukee tomorrow, then Boston and New York twice each in the next three weeks. Time to see how firm their marbles are.
Here's hoping for a second-round matchup between the Sixers and Bulls.