The Sixers offense came out blazing tonight to the tune of a 58% first-half field goal percentage. They're statistically the best defensive team in the NBA, so it's only fair to assume the Sixers gave themselves a huge cushion going into the second-half, right? Oh, how that assumption couldn't be more wrong. In fact, the Sixers had only a one-point lead when they went back to the locker room for the break. If only they could have maintained that pace.
The second half was absolutely atrocious as the Sixers offensive successes completely vanished, giving way to production that was about as auspicious as the finale for the first season of "The Killing". The Sixers only managed to score 22 points in the entire second half (that means the 3rd and 4th quarter combined). With the lack of any sort of defensive effort whatsoever, this offensive collapse allowed the lowly Raptors to run away with the game in the 4th quarter (a 4th quarter in which the Sixers scored their lowest amount of points since the 1950s), eventually beating the Sixers by 21 points... in Philadelphia... when the Sixers are in the dead heat of a division title race against the Boston Celtics.
Throughout the entire game, there was little to no defensive effort at all. The Sixers were going through screen as lethargically as I've seen them the entire season. Whether it was Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, Linas Kleiza, etc (I'll refrain from just naming the entire Raptors roster), just about anyone who wanted to shoot the ball was able to do so uncontested. The Sixers weren't closing out on jump shooters for the entire game and the Raptor wings were able to find their way into the paint relatively easily. When a defense allows the opposition to do those two things, it's about a 96.5% chance they'll be unsuccessful on that side of the floor and it was certainly true tonight.
I understand that the Sixers were on the second half of a back-to-back of which the first part was a hard fought road game against the Miami Heat. They were bound to be at least a little winded and it would even be understandable to see them come out a little flat. But tonight, the Sixers were more than a little flat, they were downright lazy with an extremely uninterested demeanor. The game was as ugly as I've seen this entire season, and brings back the question of what can be done with this team long-term?
A few more things after the jump.
Last week, Jordan, Mike, and Derek got themselves into an insanely hardcore discussion about whether rebuilding was the way to go or if the win as many games as you can approach was better off. It was clear what their stance on it all was (hint: former - hint 2: I feel the same). The discussion prompted some of the best content that Liberty Ballers has seen since it's conception (this and this come to mind - seriously, read them) and is sure to rear its ugly head again after tonight's debacle.
The fact of the matter is, this team is headed towards the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference as they continue to fail to make up ground on the Boston Celtics, which is sure to be a date with the team the Sixers can't beat if the fate of the world depended on it. With the way they've played them the past couple years and with how they've been producing over the past two months, it's pretty clear the Sixers would be lucky to win a game. With the difficult schedule facing the Celtics, it's still not out of the realm of possibility that the Sixers could sneak away with the division crown, but is this something we as fans would want when thinking about the long-term? If they come away with the crown, the 4-seed and a possible first-round victory, ownership will most certainly look at that as progress thereby feeling the need to bring back a more than likely option out Louis Williams and free agent to be Spencer Hawes. This is certainly another discussion to have at another time, but is definitely a situation to think about.
There's no way around it, this loss was arguably (along with the loss in DC) the worst of the entire season. If you were hoping this would be the only pessimistic, throat clawing post inspired by tonight's game, I'd advise you to not come back to the site for a couple days for your health's sake. It might get a little violent around these parts in the coming days.
I guess I won't be completely pessimistic. Jrue took complete advantage of his mismatch with Calderon on the offensive end during the first half. I wasn't overly excited about it as it was happening because he should be doing this without much hesitation every single time he faces the Raptors. It was nice to see him take advantage of it though. The Old School Chevy, Mr. Brand had his mid-range game working in the first half to the tune of 20 total points for the game. Andre Iguodala looked pretty fresh in his goggles but eventually disposed of them when the second half came around. That's about all I got when it comes to the positives. I'm surprised I got a whole paragraph out of it.
At the end of the day, this game was just more proof that this team is nothing but mediocre and will continue to be so if ownership doesn't recognize it. They're "this is a fun team" approach is on its last leg and may have run its course for many Sixer fans. It seemed nice when they were winning, but what will they do now that reality is moving back in town?
Tweet of the night goes to our very own Jordan with this gem:
The Wells Fargo Center is packed tonight and win or lose, I bet the fans are going to leave saying "Man, what a great game!!"
We're back it again on Saturday with a home match-up against the Orlando Magic on ESPN. Until then, let's all get depressed together!