There are nights to talk about silver linings and progress reports. And then there are games like the Sixers 101-83 loss to the Grizzlies, where it's probably best that we all move on and pretend that it didn't happen.
It was always going to be tough to deal with Memphis on a back-to-back, but the Sixers effort looked particularly listless juxtaposed next to their performance against Toronto. Unlike last night, when the starters overcame a pretty poor performance from the bench mob, the "featured" lineup got their doors blown off.
Given the general sloppiness of the performance, there's no easy way to pinpoint the problem. Brett Brown spoke to Molly Sullivan at halftime, highlighting the team's poor defense in the high-post area specifically. Fair observation given Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph's ability to work from there, but it's not as if they displayed "strength" in other areas. The best shooting effort (percentage wise) from the starters came courtesy of Nerlens Noel, and 3-6 is not exactly shouldering the load.
The balance of ball movement last night was lost on the flight to Memphis. Either the team passed too much, resulting in shot-clock violations and late-clock heaves, or it fell back into habits of bad shots and selfishness. Michael Carter-Williams, unfortunately, was guilty of the latter for much of the evening. His -20 was a pretty fair indication of how the team looked under his stewardship.
Hard to put it all on him when the designated shooter (Robert Covington) was reluctant to get shots up in the minutes he did play, and his other wings (K.J. McDaniels, Luc Mbah a Moute) tally just six and seven points respectively on nine shots apiece. The "chicken or the egg?"-ness of the Sixers offensive problems isn't likely to be solved anytime soon.
This is a game on the schedule that I'll look forward to next season -- a healthy Joel Embiid and Noel getting to battle a top frontcourt will be a lot of fun. But when Gasol is dropping skyhooks over Noel and Z-Bo is knocking down threes, you can't do much but throw your hands up in exasperation.
Odds & Ends
- Jerami Grant continued a solid run of play, leading the Sixers in scoring with 16 points on the evening. Coach Brown made sure to shout him out in his post-game gathering, calling him the "poster child in development at the moment." Brown went on to discuss Grant's work effort and willingness to get shots up with the team's shooting coach. Have to imagine that his father and uncle, both former NBA players, painted a clear picture of what it takes to establish yourself at the pro level. Encouraging progress from a guy I thought was destined to flame out.
- Larry Drew II has done some nice things on the offensive end (and looks to have a solid connection with Grant), but he's just as negative on the defensive end. Lineups with him in the game are typically treading water at best, and I'm not sure if he'll get a second 10-day or not. Considering the sheer volume of six-foot guards out there, the odds aren't great.
- Furkan Aldemir made a jumper! And he took more than one! What a time to be alive.
- Looked like the whole team caught a case of Nerlens-hands tonight. Hollis Thompson bobbled two straight routine passes in a single possession, in a scene that could have been set to the Benny Hill theme. It's no wonder the team had 23 turnovers.
- There has to be somebody better than Malcolm Thomas out there.