At this time last season, each 76ers game looked like another step on the way to building something real. A wall of athletic defenders led an aggressive defense that looking like a building block. Each mistake was a learning lesson for a series of rookies and second-year players who just didn't know any better. Jerami Grant could put the ball on the floor and do surprising things. Nerlens Noel could get switched onto small players and defend like no center we've ever seen.
It was a good time in the rebuild, and a reminder that good things were going to come.
But those good times were fleeting. Those Sixers are gone. These Sixers don't have an identity or foundation. It's a collection of spare parts not intended to totally fit together or build toward something. It's just a placeholder for a team that will eventually be unrecognizable for fans who watched tonight's game. It doesn't mean the good times won't be here, but it's a far cry from what a real successful team looks like.
The Celtics scored 120 points and appearing to be basically unstoppable in a 15-point win against the Sixers. Each Boston starter scored at least 17 points, with Isaiah Thomas leading the way with 26, powered by 10 makes on 10 free throw attempts. Avery Bradley scored 20 on 12 shots, and Amir Johnson scored 18 on 10 shots.
The Sixers just didn't have a way to defend Thomas with Ish Smith, who was helpless defending anyone who could breathe and move, and the trickle-down hurt everyone. Noel fouled out in 24 minutes and struggled defending both the penetration and the Celtics on the offensive glass. Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger got 6 wide-open threes combined off Thomas dives. Amir Johnson's offense consisted exclusively of shots in the paint.
It was just hard to watch, and it means so little for the grand scheme of building this team, that you wonder why you tune into each game still.
1. Carl Landry carried the Sixers offense, scoring 26 efficient points off the bench. I have two thoughts on the performance. The first is that Landry really makes the most of his abilities to be an effective second-unit offensive player at age 32, and that Jahlil Okafor could really learn from Landry. Landry has an array of post moves, but he's no more talented or skilled than Okafor even at Okafor's age. Okafor also is four inches taller and more athletic, plus they do about the same amount on defense. The second is that I'm annoyed at needing 32-year-old Carl Landry to stay competitive in games three years into the rebuild.
2. The win for the Celtics moves them within 0.5 games of the Heat for the fourth best record in the East. Check out CelticsBlog for their thoughts on the game. And on another note, listen to this week's Rights To Ricky Sanchez.
3. Evan Turner had his standard three-category game, finishing with 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. As Evan's midrange shot goes, so does he. He hit more than half his midrange shots, so it was a good game for him.
4. Nik Stauskas has replaced Hollis Thompson as the garbage time Sixer du jour. Unlike Hollis, who typically just hits the same shots in garbage time that he always takes and misses in crunch time, Nik transforms into a get-mine extraordinaire. He finished with seven fourth quarter points, all after the game was decided, and is noticeably more aggressive with his drives and shot attempts.
5. Ish Smith played all but two minutes of the second half in a blowout. That seems short-sighted on a back-to-back.