The Sixers ended their 5 game road swing in unimpressive fashion, losing their 4th straight game to drop to 2-9 on the young season. The team had started each of the previous two seasons 5-6, and 2-9 is the worst start for the franchise since that miserable 1995-96 season when they started 2-11, a team that went on to an 18-64 record and ended up with the #1 pick in the 1996 draft, one Allen Iverson.
With Andre Igudoala out, the Sixers started Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andres Nocioni, Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes. This combination had previously fared alright, but struggled tonight on both ends of the court. The group started off the game unable to score, recording only 9 points in the first 6+ minutes of action. That collection of players then started the downward spiral that was the 3rd quarter, being outscored 12-7 in a 5 minute run.
There's not a whole lot of positive to take from tonight's game. The Cleveland Cavaliers, despite over-achieving relative to what was expected of them this season after the departure of LeBron James, are mediocre in every facet of the game. Ranked 23rd in the league in offensive rating, 22nd in the league in defensive rating, 27th in offensive rebounding percentage and 17th in defensive rebounding percentage, this game was as ripe for the taking as any game on the road trip, and the Sixers came up short.
That being said, I'll try to find some positive:
- I thought Jrue Holiday had a nice first half, moving the ball around well, taking care of the ball, and playing solid defense. His shot wasn't falling (1-5 in the first half), but he had 7 assists to 2 turnovers and the offense was playing well. Unfortunately, he had only 3 assists (to 2 turnovers), got beat quite a bit defensively, and was a -9 in the second half.
- Likewise, I thought Turner played a very good first quarter, scoring 7 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. He disappeared in the second, and after making a 3 to start the second half (the first three of his NBA career), he didn't make a field goal the rest of the game. I thought he got some decent looks in the second half, but just wasn't making shots he normally does. The positive is, after taking only 3 field goal attempts against the Spurs, put up 13 shots and got to the line 8 times. Keep shooting, young fella.
- Brand, Turner and Young combined to grab 22 defensive rebounds between them, and the Sixers held the Cavaliers to three offensive rebounds, a defensive rebounding percentage of 93.3%. Granted, the Cavaliers are a terrible offensive rebounding team, made worse by the fact that Anderson Varejao was hobbled. Still, in a game in which the Sixers forced only 7 turnovers and allowed the Cavs to shoot 46% from the field (40% from three) and score 101 points on only 80 field goal attempts, I'm reaching for positives.
- Speaking of positives, Thaddeus Young had his best game of the season. The 17 points on 12 shots was great (a TS% of 68.3, an improvement on his already team-leading 60.6%), but the 7 defensive rebounds were a season high. Overall, Thad was the only player in the positive in the +/- department with a +4 (Evan Turner was next at 0). On the season, Thad's a +13, best on the team for players who have played significant minutes.