The trend of insanely good point guards crushing the Sixers continued tonight, as Chris Paul, though held in check for much of the game, hit the game-winning jumper over the long arms of newly minted NBA All-Star Andre Iguodala. The Sixers had 3.2 seconds left to take the lead, but an embarrassing Louis Williams double-team chuck later sounded the horn.
This is the first time this season the Sixers have dropped two in a row, both losses having come at home to tough teams. With one game left in the vicious eight game stretch, the Sixers are currently teetering at 4-3. Well, let's discuss.
So Chris Paul is really quite decent at basketball. Jrue Holiday did a commendable job defending him for much of the game, but in the climax, it was Andre who stuck him. I have no issue with that and neither should you. After almost turning the ball over, it was all iso, all the time for CP3. I would've liked a double team to get the ball out of his hands earlier, but it was clear that Collins was comfortable leafing Dre on the island covering one of the best players of his generation. Naturally, the fadeaway evaded his fingertips by a dwarf's nipple, and despite an off-balance tough one, the ball barely grazed the net.
Collins has been, let's face it, completely awful at calling plays at any point when a play needs to be called. Isolation moves are all they have, and though Louis Williams is (sharp intake of breath) one of the best in the game at ISOing, he's also got pretty offensive shot selection and inconsistent decision-making when the game is on the line. In this particular play, he caught the ball from Iguodala going away from the basket, 35 feet away. That's awful on everyone's part. From conception to pass to catch - everything was done wrong with only a few ticks left. Then Lou decides to dribble into a double team and, well, there's really nothing more repulsive than a flailing airball to end the game.
The Sixers are now 2-6 in games decided by 7 points or less, giving credence to the myth that "they can't win close games". Don't misjudge the difference between "they can't" and "they aren't". Eight games is not a big enough sample size, and in a lot of those games, they've been going up against some of the best players of our time. Players who occasionally get the star power bump from the officials as the clock dwindles down. Conversely, they're 16-3 in games decided by 8 points or more. That doesn't sound too bad, now does it?
Let's take a look at the game outside of the last 15 seconds, which actually mattered as well! Go figure!
Another game where the Sixers couldn't hang on the glass. Minus Spencer Hawes, the Sixers allowed a 32.6 Offensive Rebounding Rate on the backs of Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clips just stayed around the rim all game, taking advantage of the lack of size and depth up front for the Sixers. Nikola Vucevic barely played, but when he did, he wasn't excellent. Lavoy Allen did what he can do, picking up a few heavy D-boards, but he's still pretty bad at everything else if we take off the rosey glasses for a minute.
Going up against teams with a legitimate front court will be tough to swallow if Hawes isn't as good or as healthy as he was those first twelve games. Because Vuce and Lavoy are not there yet. Elton Brand can't do it himself, especially since he's been doing the mediocre dance much of this season as well.
One of the few times this season the Sixers have given up the ball more than their opponents, this one mostly on Jrue. Sloppy early, he coughed it up five times on the night, heavily dampening his 8 dimes. More importantly than a measly 10 turnovers is that they didn't make LA give it up more. Only 7 on the night isn't enough for a team that, save CP3, doesn't have great handlers of balls. Make Blake and DAJ pay for putting the ball on the wood. Missed opportunities.
It seems to be en vogue to blame losses on foul shots. Oh if he had just made that foul shot....! Missing 8 free throws isn't the reason they lost the game. Shooting 4-15 from beyond the arc contributed much more to the loss, as did the second chance opportunities for LAC. But to say DREW SHOULDA MADE DAT FOUL SHOT WE BE IN OT AND PUNK THEY ASSES is not only dizzying, it's worthless. Obviously, in a one point loss, any shot that had gone in earlier in the game would have been instrumental in helping the team win. Foul shots are not the only culprit.
Yes, they need to shoot better from the line. They will. I promise. But first they need to get to the line more often. As I said a few days ago, the fact that they get to the line so rarely is going to hurt them big time when shots don't fall. And despite some oddly homerrific statements that their depth will save them from cold streaks, it's just not the case. Teams go cold. Shots get brickish. The rim closes up. And teams have to be able to manufacture points at the line to alleviate the pain of cold shooting. 23 free throws is decent, but 8 of those came in the last 3 minutes. More would've been better. Keep taking it to the basket, kids. Good things happen.
I don't understand why he doesn't play more. I don't. At the same time, I don't think it's time to worry about him yet. He's shown a good deal of improvement this year, and Collins likes to jerk him around from game to game. Okay. Fine. Whatever. I'm frustrated about it but I don't think, in the permanent sense, we need to worry about Doug's handling of him yet. Yet.
So they'll close out the 8 game tumult at Cleveland tomorrow. That should be a win, especially after two tough ones in a row. Losing by one point to a team with the best point guard in the league and some very talented big men when the Sixers' best big is out... that's nothing to hang your head about. The bigger ramifications of this game are how bad Collins is at diagramming plays, how Lou gets even Bossier after the show he put on against the Lakers, and why oh why Evan Turner doesn't play more. I'm extremely pleased that there's a game on tomorrow to expedite this fuming process.
Head on over to Clips Nation for their Celebratory Chris Paul Electric Slide - Steve Perrin's really much more flexible than he looks for a curmudgeon at his age. In the meantime, we invite you to follow Liberty Ballers on Twitter and like Liberty Ballers on Facebook.