The 76ers should stop running press conferences for major announcements before home games. On Monday, the announcement of Jerry Colangelo's hiring led into a 51 point soul-crusher of a loss against the spectacular San Antonio Spurs. Today, Brett Brown's contract extension led into a 12 point soul-crusher of a loss against a perfectly mediocre Detroit Pistons team, a margin of victory that should have been much larger.
When the 2015-16 Sixers start a game unready to play, they look like a college team transplanted onto an NBA court. Sloppy passes and plays which consistently run up against an ever-dwindling shot clock happen on every possession, and you wonder how the team ever produces a quality possession. They turn the ball over so often, and in such comically bad ways. Defenders wait multiple seconds for inevitable charges. Wings put pressure on the Sixers and almost always force dribbles off legs or feet. It's not real basketball.
Those stretches where you wonder what the point of the pain is really test your patience with the team. Sometimes those moments happen against good teams, and the good teams keep on the throttle. The Spurs went up early and never let up. The Pistons had the same chance, but they aren't as good and have no bench to speak of, so the Sixers came back and made a game of it in the second quarter.
Jahlil Okafor finished with 22 points, many against Pistons backup center Aron Baynes. Okafor continues to exhibit the skills to exploit sub-par defenders, and the Sixers should continue to go to that well. He and the season-debuting Kendall Marshall led the comeback.
But the Pistons starters returned midway through the second quarter, played most of the third, and dominated whenever they held court. Andre Drummond had his way with everyone, finishing with 11 offensive rebounds and 16 overall. Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris each scored 21 points. Every Pistons starter had a plus/minus of at least +27, and all their reserves were in the negatives. The Pistons put it away late in the third, and everyone ran through the motions from there.
1. Kendall Marshall played 16 minutes in his debut and pretty much sealed his position as the starting point guard based on his performance. He finished with six assists in 16 minutes and looked in control of what he was doing.
2. If the Sixers do indeed add a grizzled veteran before Christmas, count me in as wanting someone who can shoot or create off the dribble rather than a big. Carl Landry should debut soon, and Okafor and Noel need more time apart. I would rather trade a Hollis Thompson or Isaiah Canaan for such a player than do the obvious and release Christian Wood, a project player with sparse NBA playing time but with a high ceiling.
4. As the Sixers get healthier, they will have more and more rotation decisions to sort through. Is T.J. McConnell still going to get point guard minutes? Who ends up getting the dreaded DNP-CDs? JaKarr Sampson sat out Thursday night's game. Richaun Holmes played just 3 minutes. Tony Wroten sat out as he's on an abbreviated schedule for the back-to-back. The Okafor-Noel combination is just not working. Brett Brown has a lot of sorting to do.
The Sixers haven't had this issue in a while. Last season ended with a regular short rotation due to lingering and reoccurring injuries, and the team started the season with nine healthy players. The only injuries expected to result in scratches for Sunday's game against Toronto are for Joel Embiid and Landry.
5. Speaking of Joel Embiid, in his now limited social media presence he still spits hot flames.
6. The Sixers seemed hesitant on the second game of a back-to-back to shoot threes, understandable given the 4-30 on Thursday. They shot only 18, half of those by Robert Covington, which is nine short of their average. They did, however, commit 21 turnovers by trying to force offense in the paint. Last year made it evident - the Sixers need to win by shooting threes (if not even making a high percentage) and avoiding turnovers. They did neither tonight and got blown out.