The Jazz beat the 76ers 88-71 in a game that you will not be telling your grandchildren about some day. "Bad basketball" is not a strong enough description for what our eyes have seen. Derrick Favors put up a 17-15-3-3-5 line (points-rebounds-assists-steals-blocks), while Trey Burke scored 17 points on 5-18 from the floor, which made him by far the more efficient starting point guard last night.
Against the league's 28th best defense heading into the game, the Sixers managed a measly 71 points, beckoned by a legendary 2-20 from the floor, six turnover performance from Michael Carter-Williams. Done by previous Sixer great Allen Iverson (of course), Jrue Holiday (sure?), and Chris Webber (what?), the two field goals or fewer mark is a surprisingly difficult thing to do.
And really, MCW's poor shooting was the Sixers' story of the night, especially since Tony Wroten shot relatively well (20 points on 8-17). Wroten is a much better player at making something out of nothing, as he's more athletic. Unlike MCW, who is eminently stoppable, Wroten can get to the rim whenever he wants, and Utah's frontline is easy to get to the rim against when Rudy Gobert isn't playing.
MCW isn't as athletic, and Trey Burke did a good job defending him. Then add his still-awful shooting, and you have what happened last night.
Most of the calls from watchers was "why is he shooting so much? Why is he forcing so many plays that aren't there?" For what it's worth, I think both questions have the same answer - MCW can't shoot, and neither can most of his teammates. The Sixers try to - and need to - compensate by attacking and trying to create things that aren't there.
The Sixers find themselves in situations where MCW has the ball with fewer than 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock with no play action surrounding him entirely too often. Whether he's at fault or it's on the coach/system is another argument for another day by someone who is better at breaking down video. At this point, the movement around him (or Wroten in similar spots) stops, and he's left to make something happen.
Carter-Williams is not good at just making things happen but is instructed to do so anyway. Brett Brown noted after the game in the media scrum that he asks the guards to "attack downhill" - meaning continuing to drive the paint, even if there's five defenders waiting there to meet you. When the defense is concerned about one perimeter shooter (Robert Covington, who scored 17 points last night), that means as many as four defenders are circled in on defending the driver.
Combine the lack of shooting ability, the not-elite athleticism, the coach's edicts, and the opponent's help-defense, and you get last night. The first two are flaws MCW has. The last two are contextual and serve to make the results look worse. Reactionary "MCW should be benched!" comments reek of a lack of understanding of the team's context. MCW is limited, and he's trying to do something he's basically incapable of, but the process he goes through is exactly what the coaches want him to do.
And maybe making something out of nothing is a major part of the job of a point guard, and if he's incapable of doing that, then maybe he shouldn't be that guy. That sentiment makes sense. But he is 6'6" and an average or better passer for his position. Maybe he shouldn't be a lead guard? Games like last night make you question that, but more importantly, we should be looking at the crummy situation he's trying to make good of in the first place.
Go to SLC Dunk for a Jazz-centric recap. Send our love Amar's way.
- Hollis Thompson is closer to me than his teammates. He was sent back to Philly as he still is sick.
- Luc Mbah a Moute missed the game with a calf strain.
- Alec Burks missed the game with an injury. Rookie Rodney Hood started in his place and also needed to leave the game at one point due to a twisted ankle. Dante Exum got a little more time as a result but struggled, shooting just 1-7 from the floor.
- The road trip continues in Oakland on Monday. God help us all if the Warriors come to play.