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How much better are the Sixers without Brand?

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These are just a few things to ponder on this boring Monday. 

Obviously the Sixers are playing well without Elton Brand. They've won four in a row and everyone is settling into their specific role on the team. They are out-running, out-hustling and out-jumping teams, just like they were on their huge run late last season. Remember when Lou-Will was struggling with his shot and was barely getting off the bench? Yeah, well not anymore. Remember all the "Andre Miller is over-the-hill" comments? No more. Remember the Andre Iguodala fiasco where just about everyone wanted a refund on the 80-million dollar contract? No more.

What's been the difference? Are they playing better basketball because DiLeo is running the show instead of Cheeks? Or is it because Elton doesn't fit with this team? Well, I just did some research and I'm pretty positive there's at least one player who Elton has a negative effect on. That player is Andre Miller. At first glance, his slow start looked to be a result of either his age, his off-season plan or lack thereof, but the statistics say Elton Brand has something to do with Andre Miller sucking earlier this year.

All these stats are via basketball-reference by the way.

Here's the rundown:

Since the Elton Brand injury, Andre Miller is shooting a gaudy 52% from the field. Before Elton dislocated his shoulder Miller was shooting 45%, which is respectable, but nowhere near the 52% he's shooting without him. Before you get all hot and bothered, I'm completely aware that this is a very small sample size, and Andre Miller has a reputation of starting slow, because he basically takes the summer off and uses the the first couple weeks to get in game shape. At least that's the impression I had, and I've read that in numerous places, but looking at the numbers, that's not the case. For his career, Miller has collectively shot 44% in the months of October and November, which is only 2% lower than his career average of 46% and 2% is nothing to get excited about.

Here's where Brand comes in. The thought that Andre plays his worst basketball with Elton as his teammate would not have even crossed my mind had they not played together for a season in Los Angeles. The season was 2002-2003. Andre, a 26-year old stud, shot a career low 40.6%. So, the common denominator in Miller's shooting woes isn't the fact that he's old and starts slow; it's Elton Brand. Why? You're guess is as good as mine. It will definitely be interesting to monitor when EB returns from his injury. Here's the key numbers one more time.

Andre Miller's shooting % without Elton this season: 52%

Andre Miller's shooting % with Elton this season: 45%

Andre Miller's shooting % without Elton for his career: 46%

Andre Miller's shooting % with Elton for his career: 42%

Other questions that need to be answered when Elton returns are: Will Andre Iguodala continue to play well? Lou Williams? Will DiLeo integrate Elton better than Cheeks did? And who will move from the starting lineup to the bench?

For what it's worth, Hawks coach Mike Woodson thinks Brand and the Sixers will be fine.

And for the record, this story of Brand returning in 2 weeks is a week old, so his return should come sometime in the next week or so.

Happy Monday guys and if you're like me and have to return to school today, good luck and hit on as many college girls as you can!

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