It's been more than a week since the ball pit was last open. During that 9 day span, the Sixers put together
an impressive string of wins many losses and are still in the midst of a five-game losing skid.
Four of the next five battles on the schedule are all winnable games for the Sixers (which means losable for the #missionBJ faithful out there) as they take on the Bucks, Wizards, Raptors, and Nets within a week of each other. Depending on what outcome you will be rooting for, that could be a horrible/encouraging stretch of games.
So what's on the docket for today? We've got a little breakdown of the lack of a center, a couple recaps of last night's affair with Toronto, thoughts from Marc Zumoff and E-Snow, Evan Turner confident he can take the "big shot," an Andre injury update, and the relationship between Elton Brand and Doug Collins.
Alohamora after the jump.
"I thought we had some guys do some good things," coach Doug Collins said. "You look at the numbers and we're plus-18 points in the paint; plus-seven on second-chance points; plus-11 points on turnovers."
The end of the fourth was the ugliest part for the Sixers, but the rest of the quarter wasn't pretty, either. The Sixers scored only 15 points in the final 12 minutes, shooting 5 for 18 (27.8 percent). They also had five of their 13 turnovers while forcing only one turnover from the Raptors.
"It goes back to training camp, when I said my biggest concern is close games," said Collins, whose team dropped to 2-10. "We had a couple of opportunities, point-blank shots that we missed, and that was tough."
"It's the same old, same old," said forward Elton Brand, who led the Sixers with 27 points. "It seems like we could have pulled it out. We had the lead and we can't get stops at opportune times, and we turn it over at misfortunate times. We get turnovers and we don't even get attempts at the basket. That's a killer when we're trying to close out these ball games."
Said Collins, "We don't have that guy you can go to, and I don't say that to discourage our guys, but Elton's a guy you get the ball to and they smother him, and they're gonna force us to get that ball out of there. We really just don't have that guy that's going to make that play. Jrue made a couple nice plays in there, but just couldn't finish."
Brand is averaging 16 points and 8.2 rebounds, ranks first among power forwards in steals and his efficiency rating ranks in the top five at his position. After a season of grating at his handling by Jordan, the confidence shown in him by Collins has made a difference.
"It's definitely easier and more comfortable now," Brand said. "Doug has watched so many games over the years. He's seen just about everything in this game that you can see. In the last playoff game that I played, he was sitting right there at courtside at the TV commentator. I've joked with him and told Doug that he's seen me score 40 points. He was right there up close. He knows how to get me the ball and to get the most out of me."
EB on playing with a young, losing team:
"Right now, it has to be OK with me," Brand said. "Last year we had more veterans. We were trying to go to the playoffs, then we had injuries and a lot of tough things happened. Now we're just trying to turn this thing around and I've got a role to play. After what I've been though past few seasons, I'm just happy to be a real part of something again."
Rookie Evan Turner, who had his second NBA double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds), said he's willing to take a big shot.
"Back in college, I took 'em all, baby," Turner said. "When the ball's in your hands, you have to step up and take the shot. If you're out there scared, there's no point in playing."
Turner didn't have a field goal in a fourth quarter in which he was the only Sixer to play the entire 12 minutes. He missed his only attempt, though he made 3 of 4 free throws.
"What can you do?" Turner said. "There's only two ways you can go - you can fight through or you can quit. We're definitely going to fight."
Thus far this season, the center position for the 76ers has been about as productive as a child attempting to do homework on Christmas morning.
Tony Battie has really been the lone bright spot at the position, but the 34-year-old can be counted on for only a few minutes each game because of wear and tear.
What Collins did decide was to not give Speights any playing time Tuesday, though he did make him the first sub off the bench last night, getting him in the game early in the first quarter. He was also out quickly, after picking up two fouls.
"It's [lack of] consistency," Collins said of Speights. "That's the one thing I've talked to Mo about, just be consistent day to day in work habits, in our walkthroughs on game days to be prepared. We need Mo. He's a talented player."
"If you break something, you know exactly when you're coming back," Iguodala said before the Sixers met Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center. "With this, it's off and on. One day it feels fine, then the next day something as simple as changing from offense to defense, when you try to change real fast, you jerk it a little bit and you're right back where you were initially.
"It's very frustrating," he added. "Nobody in the league is playing at 100 percent, but you want to be comfortable out there. I haven't been able to practice with the guys, and that's making it hard, too."
"I'm just trying to wake up and be pain free," he said. "I can go out there and shoot some shots. The biggest problem is trying to cut and react to the ball. The initial sprint is probably the worst. It's kind of hard to get out on the break."
"As a man who had a lot of injuries in his career, nobody knows your body like you do," Collins said. "When he's ready to go, he'll let us know and he'll be back out there because we definitely need him."