Much like last game, it looked like the 76ers were finally going to pull one out. Against the Miami Heat, it was 3.5 quarters before the Sixers crumbled. Tonight, against the Timberwolves, it was a little over 2 minutes left in the game.
Can I be honest with you? I'm as much at a loss with my feelings about the Sixers as the team is with trying to find a win. After blowing a lead and losing to the Heat, I was livid. After tonight, I'm just numb. I think the proverbial monkey is playing games with this team and fanbase mental state more than anything, however.
But let's switch gears as I've been markedly more negative this year. Lord (not Covington) knows that we have enough to be down about and not everything is as bleak as it seems.
If you hadn't heard, the #1 and #3 picks of the 2015 NBA draft were facing off tonight (Shout out to Max and Sandro, the minds behind the Sixers social media presence the past few years, for handling LB's twitter for the night)
To put it simply, Jahlil Okafor dominated the matchup. Early and often, Okafor took it to Karl-Anthony Towns like he was out to prove a point, offensively and defensively being one step ahead. Okafor's array of moves and savvy put Towns in foul trouble early and essentially neutralized him for most of the game. I mean, c'mon...
*salivates* https://t.co/l3CjlUDtX7— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) November 24, 2015
With the context of age and experience, Big Jah has been fantastic these past 2 games and has been steadily improving overall with each passing game. A 19 year old center with post moves, passing ability and face up game as developed as his is pretty ridiculous. The struggles will be worth it if these moments of sheer awe translate into something greater with time, experience and development. His final line from this game? 25 Pts. (10-15), 12 Rebs (5 Off), 2 Blocks.
Odds & Ends
- For as much as the #1-#3 match up was built up, it was the other #1 pick that made the difference in crunch time. Andrew Wiggins was pretty sensational throughout the game but especially in the 4th. For all the knocks he got while in Kansas about being passive, his aggressiveness and play-making is what won the game for Minnesota. Play-making at the wing has been so crucial for the opposing teams in some of these close losses. It's that play-making that is sorely lacking on the Sixers side.
- I centered my last recap on Brett Brown and how he hurt the Sixers down the stretch against Miami. While he didn't exactly "doom" the team, his 4th quarter line ups were once again troublesome/questionable. I've beat the criticism of the Grant-Noel-Okafor line up to death and I've yet to find a plausible defense for it now. You can make the claim that he wasn't given enough talent, but I feel as though he's pressing the wrong buttons with the talent he does have lately. Watching Isaiah Canaan dribble the air out of the ball as he's unable to create anything and getting lost on defense isn't fun for anyone. He's an undersized 2 guard chucker and his play late in games is killing them.
- In a related point, where was Jah? I raved about Okafor's performance and how he was dominating. Apparently, the team didn't get that notice. Inexplicably, the team started to go away from Okafor in that crunch time resorting to a Jerami Grant post-up and Canaan doing something resembling basketball. Brett's been pretty vocal about how the team gets too static with Jahlil. However, at that juncture of the game, with how he was having so much success, why wouldn't you stress the team to feed Okafor? (sigh)
- I don't know why so many people are down on Jerami Grant. He's a good perimeter defender, a good weak side rim protector, has developed a pretty good ability to drive to the basket (and then kill it), has improved his FT shooting, and plays with a lot of energy. The regression beyond the arc is disappointing but that area is the one thing that's really separating him from being a Draymond Green Lite.
- The refs have been absolutely brutal to the Sixers these past 2 games (Read: Since Iverson). Some terrible goal tending calls gifted the T'wolves points. Inconsistency in foul calls late also hurt. After watching Chris Bosh push players down and getting foul calls, some Minnesota players got away with with stuff learned in the Kevin Garnett School of Setting Illegal Picks in the 4th. I hate blaming the refs because it feels like a cop out. But for this young, 0-15 Sixers team, it's like they can't catch a break and the refs are making it increasingly difficult to boot.
- Speaking of good ol' KG... The guy plays the game way too seriously or as the young kids call it, has "No Chill". I'd probably feel different if he played for Philly or if he hadn't done the following to Philly's expense, but he's just such a dirty player that gets away with stuff people I play with at the gym don't get away with. And somehow, he's the only person on the planet that people are okay with being over-the-top intense! Or maybe it's just me. He used to be one of my favorite players growing up and now he's one of my least.
- Boston's up next this Wednesday. The Celtics' back court provides a really tough match up for the flotsam the Sixers will throw out, so that's great. I don't/can't keep track of the historic infamy anymore but, if you haven't felt or been reminded enough, the Sixers REALLY need to win a game.