If I were to tell you that you could play against arguably the best team in the NBA without their All-NBA caliber point guard, with their best scorer and best post player in foul trouble for the majority of the second half, and attempt ten more free throws, is that something you might be interested in?
If I were told those facts without knowing the final outcome, I would have guessed that the Sixers pulled one out in Boston tonight. You're going to tell me that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would be tied to the bench, Rajon Rondo would be in street clothes, and the Sixers would have a double digit margin in free throws attempted? That's as good a chance as a team could ever ask for the steal one from the defending East champs.
The Sixers, however, didn't capitalize on this rare opportunity.
With the power of technology and wizardry, I watched this game on a delay and knew the outcome as I headed into the fourth quarter. I knew the Sixers were yet again unable to close out a game in which they had a fourth quarter lead. Like many of the other close games they've dropped this season, I knew that it was a stagnant offensive attack down the stretch that helped aid the losing effort. Since I knew this all beforehand, I decided to note every possession the Sixers had for the last six minutes of the game. Enjoy, or better yet, loathe.
1. An Andre Iguodala fadeaway jumper clanks off the rim.
2. A Lou Williams turnover leads to a Paul Pierce dunk in transition
3. Tony Battie tips in a missed Thaddeus Young floater and gets fouled. He misses the free throw.
4. Dre bricks a jumper from a foot inside the three-point line.
5. Jrue Holiday shakes Nate Robinson, pulls the trigger, and buries a jumper.
6. Lou misses a three and when I say miss, I mean not in the same universe as the basket.
7. Lou hits a baseline runner.
8. Dre bricks another fadeaway jumper.
9. Dre draws Garnett over and finds Elton Brand for a perfectly executed mid-range jumper.
10. Dre falls over and turns the ball over
11. Finally a take to the basket with Dre drawing two extra defenders to him, tries to take it up himself, and misses everything. Zumoff and Snow were crying foul but it looked clean to me on the replay. Dre created the only contact by flailing his arms towards Glenn Davis, who went straight up.
Did you catch the theme with those 11 possessions? A lot of jump shots huh? That's a perfect way to go into an offensive rut. The Sixers went away from what was working earlier in the second quarter and late in the third quarter. During that timespan, they were getting to the bucket, receiving contact, and reaping the benefits.
Instead of just giving the ball to Iguodala in iso situations, I would have like for the Sixers to work Jrue off screens and allow him to work Nate Robinson. Jrue was creating separation from Nate early on and capitalized on those opportunities so why not continue it when you need a basket? We've seen the iso Iguodala strategy before, and we know how it ends.
While the Sixers were taking pull-up jumpers late in the shot clock, the Celtics gave them a lesson on how to score late in the game. At one point during those last six minutes, the Celtics got to the line on three straight possessions and hit all six free throws. What followed up the three trips to the line? A wide-open Pierce jumper from the elbow. This team knows how to execute when it counts. The Sixers still do not.
Some more observations after the jump.
- Jrue Holiday played a nice game tonight. He started out red-hot generating nine points in the first seven minutes. During that span, he was directing the offense, working off screens, and playing very aggressive basketball. Unfortunately, this effort went away for a while except for a couple possessions in the second half. Jrue also ended with five assists and zero turnovers. A solid effort from the point guard for years to come.
- The Jodie Meeks love-fest honeymoon looks like it's over. For the seventh straight game, Jodie was unable to get it going. He was sloppy with the ball when driving, attempted just two field goals (one three) in 31 minutes, and gave Ray Allen too much room to shoot too many times. If this play continues, another lineup change may be on the horizon.
- Although I'm normally against Tony Battie playing, this is a game where I see why it had to happen. The Celtics are too big in the frontcourt for Tony not to play. He also showed why he belonged in this game as he did a more than adequate job on the defensive end. Tony came away with six rebounds, four blocks, and took some great fouls that lead to missed Shaq free throws. I'll let you have this one Tony.
- Marreese Speights and Evan Turner earned another DNP-CD badge for their respective sashes. It's becoming a trend for Speezy but I have no clue why Turner couldn't have taken half of Jodie's extremely ineffective minutes.
- The Sixers played with 45000% more effort than last night. It was a nice sight to witness them actually contesting shots and playing inspired man-to-man D.
- In his six minutes of play, rookie Avery Bradley had his way with Lou Williams on the defensive end. Lou looked very discombobulated during that stretch.
- I counted five jump balls during the game. Were there more? That's a lot of jump balls.
- Marc Zumoff said Big Baby has a "heavenly body"..... twice.
This one is in the books lads. The road trip continues onward and upward (well, westward) on Sunday when the Sixers will take on Anthony Carter and the Denver Nuggets.
Player of the Game: Jrue Holiday
Side note: As I'm writing this I have the Gonzaga/Xavier game on in the background. Xavier has a player named Tu Holloway which catches me off guard considering it's closeness to Jrue's name.