Nov 24 2014

Spread Covered, Winless Streak Extended

Portland Trail Blazers 114 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Philadelphia 76ers
Henry Sims, C 34 MIN | 8-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | -1Sims looked comfortable on offense, scoring efficiently and drawing fouls. He was 6-of-6 from the line and was a threat inside, but wasn’t hitting from outside the paint; five of his six misses came from 10 feet or beyond. Sims also struggled on defense, as the Blazers killed him on the boards.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 33 MIN | 10-24 FG | 4-5 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | -11Started slow but finished with a team-high 24 points. His shots seemed forced at times as he struggled to assist his teammates. Despite that, he took care of the ball (2 TOs) and led the team in rebounds.

Tony Wroten, SG 38 MIN | 7-18 FG | 6-9 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -12Wroten appeared to be the team’s primary ball-handler tonight, leading the team with nine assists. He continues to attack the rim relentlessly but struggled in execution against the dominant Blazers frontcourt.

Nerlens Noel, PF 33 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -18Continues to show signs of defensive stardom, but was clearly outmatched by the dominant LaMarcus Aldridge tonight. Noel did shoot the ball well with a set of fluid jumpers and a smooth left-handed, running hook.

K.J. McDaniels, SG 27 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5Wasn’t involved much offensively, but continues to impress with his defensive ability. He continues to show off his aggressive shot blocking.

By the Numbers:

0 – Sixers 3-pointers.

Tweet of the Game:

Parting Shots:

The Blazers looked slow and sluggish at the start, and the Sixers took advantage.Philly’s defensive pressure forced 15 turnovers, including 12 in the first half, which gave the winless squad an unlikely two-point lead at intermission. But the Blazers woke up in the third quarter and quickly put the away. Not helping matters for the Sixers: Portland held a 52-29 rebounding advantage. Also not helping matters: Sixers went 0-8 from beyond the arc. Still, this was a moral victory of sorts. They’ll have a chance if they bring this same effort (and hit a few 3s) when they host Brooklyn on Wednesday.

 

Nov 22 2014

Knicks Top Sixers, Dream For 70 Wins Dies

Philadelphia 76ers 83 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 New York Knicks
Nerlens Noel, PF 39 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-10 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -12Nerlens played what was easily the best game of his young career. He made a point to attack New York’s feeble front line, and it paid off with 10 free throw attempts as well as a couple chances to show off some nifty post moves. This was exactly the kind of game that Nerlens needed after a few consecutive rough offensive performances.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 29 MIN | 4-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | -6It was a tough night for Philadelphia’s backcourt, and MCW may have been the worst of the bunch. He looked visibly frustrated after throwing a few nice passes that led to missed shots by his teammates early in the first quarter, and that frustration seemed to stick with him through the entire game. He also shot the ball poorly in addition to making a lot of sloppy reads, and it makes you wonder whether he’s just getting his footing back or if he simply didn’t watch enough Ellen this week.

Robert Covington, SF 14 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +12Robert Covington’s tenure in Philadelphia had been a bit disappointing up until the fourth quarter tonight, where he hit four 3-pointers and almost single-handedly kept the Sixers in the game. Hopefully this was a sign of things to come rather than just a flukey performance for Covington, because Philadelphia needs any shooting that it can get at the moment.

Drew Gordon, C 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0You may not have noticed that Drew Gordon played in this game tonight, and that’s fine. He was able to notch an infamous 0-0-0-0-0 line in about three minutes of playing time. Why is he taking up a roster spot again?

Alexey Shved, PG 8 MIN | 1-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -4Alexey got nearly a full eight-minute stretch as the lead ball handler at the end of the first half, and once again squandered his opportunity to impress. He’s starting to look a lot like the player he was in Minnesota, who would hopelessly chuck shots in an attempt to make the most out of his limited playing time. The dream might be over with Shved in Philadelphia.

 

By the Numbers

0.72 – The Sixers had an assist/turnover ratio of 0.72, recording 18 turnovers and 13 assists. That is the opposite of good.

Quote of the Game

At one point during the first quarter, the on-court cameras caught Henry Sims loudly screaming “FUCK” after picking up a foul. We agree, Henry.

Tweet of the Game

It’s only a matter of time…

Parting Shots

The argument for “veteran presence” is about as trite as it gets at this point, but the utter lack of experience on this Sixers squad seems to only be digging them into deeper holes. The mistakes made tonight were about as careless as they were frequent, and many of the role players look to have either hit a wall in their progression or are Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Rumors swirled yesterday that Andre Kirilenko might be making his way to Philly in a trade that would be a salary dump for the Nets, and it is unlikely that Hinkie will keep the 6-9 Russian around if the deal strikes. But even though Kirilenko is 33 and well past his prime, I’d want him to stick around for a while and work as a guy who, oh I don’t know, knows how to pick up simple on simple instructions, and how to play basketball. These games are only getting harder to watch, and anybody resembling Kirilenko, who was an absolute joy in his prime, could add some much-needed flair to this putrid Philadelphia bench.

Nov 22 2014

Phoenix Tops Philly, 122-96

Phoenix Suns 122 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Philadelphia 76ers
Nerlens Noel, PF 28 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-5 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -9Despite not having the best night statistically, Nerlens was all over the floor for the Sixers and was constantly around the action in the paint. But of course, there’s not much to brag about when a starting power forward in the NBA shoots and makes only one attempt from the field all game. If there is a single moment for Noel to walk away from with his head held high, it has to be his tossing aside of Eric Bledsoe, much to the delight of Sixers fans.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 28 MIN | 6-18 FG | 6-11 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 18 PTS | -25Another game, another instance of inflated stats in meaningless minutes for the reigning Rookie of the Year. As usual, there were glimpses of refined ability soon to be outdone by questionable shot selection and one missed jumper after another clunking off the back of the rim. Yes, an 18/6/6 line looks nice, but when you miss 12 field goals and nearly half of your 11 free throw attempts in a blowout loss, it puts things in perspective.

Tony Wroten, SG 25 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -25The biggest issue for Wroten against the Suns was his unusual lack of assertion offensively. Wroten showed some signs of offensive explosiveness en route to his 13 points on eight attempts, but considering the Sixers’ guard averages 15.8 shots per game, seeing some more aggression with the ball in his hands would have been a pleasant sight while Philly played from behind.

Alexey Shved, PG 18 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +1Hey, what do you know! Alexey Shved was the team’s most noteworthy player – yes, a professional basketball team (sort of). Shved piled on the points from deep and created a substantial amount of shots for his teammates, which combined to make for his best outing as a Sixer. Shved competed on some defensive plays, as well, which is always nice.

K.J. McDaniels, SG 28 MIN | 5-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -12K.J. McDaniels was on the brink of having the eye-opening game we have all been waiting for, but a few missed opportunities on some would-be statement dunks prevented the rookie from breaking into the 20-point club for the first time. McDaniels still managed a new career high in scoring and, with a couple more showings like this, there could be a starting spot calling his name.

By the Numbers

3- The amount of losses away the team is from typing their worst start to a season in franchise history at 0-15.

 Tweet of the Game

Parting Shots

At one point, early in the game, of course, the Sixers actually had some of us believing they would give Eric Bledsoe and the Suns a run for their money. But then the second quarter began and, as expected, Philly was dominated the rest of the game, primarily by the Suns’ second unit. Luckily, Philly’s next game is against the New York Knicks and they’re pretty terrible, too.

Nov 21 2014

NBA Player Has Invalid Opinion; NBA Writers Spread It

On Wednesday, Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe appeared on Sirius XM’s The Starting Lineup and was asked how No. 1 Kentucky, his alma mater, would fare against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers in a seven-game series.

Bledsoe, an expert in all things college and professional basketball, told co-hosts Brian Geltzeiler and Malik Rose that “I’m definitely taking Kentucky … I think Philly will probably get maybe one game.” And predictably, his words spread like wildfire. Just about every website that had anything to do with the Sixers, the Wildcats, the NBA, or the NCAA had some variation of a ‘Bledsoe thinks Kentucky could beat 76ers in seven-game series’ headline that afternoon. And since we couldn’t get enough of this non-story, the investigative sports journalists followed up by asking the Sixers what they thought, making for more online content. Tony Wroten Fires Back at Eric Bledsoe. Eric Bledsoe ‘crazy’ for thinking Kentucky would beat 76ers. The War of Words Continues.

They also asked John Calipari (He said Philly would win). And then DeMarcus Cousins (He said Kentucky). Your opinion gets a headline! Your opinion gets a headline! Everybody’s opinion gets a headline!

This is sports internet at its worst. A player goes on a radio show, casually offers his opinion about something he knows little about, and because the quote makes for sexy SEO material – and sports has a 24-hour news cycle — blogs and online publications ran with it. CBS Sports, SLAMonline, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Philly.com, Fox Sports, Zags Blog, Dime Mag, Larry Brown Sports, CSN, AZCentral, etc… and I guess now, Hoop76 too.

I didn’t want to dignify Bledsoe’s remarks with a response, but reader Sam tells me this disease of an opinion has contaminated a New York City hedge fund office (and half of the voters in this SportsNation poll. Fuck SportsNation.) I guess it’s my obligation as a blogggggger to try and stop this madness. I’m kinda like one of those doctors in Liberia.

So here you go: The Kentucky Wildcats would not beat the Philadelphia 76ers in a seven-game series. And it wouldn’t be close. Yes, Kentucky is the best college team. But the Sixers are made up of the best of the best of every college team. They’re taller, stronger, faster, and more experienced. They practice longer hours, and train more efficiently. While Willie Cauley-Stein is studying art studio, Michael Carter-Williams is studying jump shots.

This debate came up in 2012, when Anthony Davis and the Wildcats were unstoppable and the Charlotte Bobcats (7-59) were a laughingstock. On Basketball Prospectus, Kevin Pelton plugged Kentucky into SCHOENE, which projected that Calipari’s squad would win one of seven games against the Bobcats, and 1.6 on the season.

The numbers confirm what we already suspected: the best college teams just don’t compare to the worst the NBA has to offer,” Pelton wrote.

But we shouldn’t need SCHOENE to settle this. It’s common sense. While the Sixers are a winless NBA team, they’ve hung around with most of their opponents. They’re a week removed from a one-point loss to the Rockets. That’s one of the best teams in the world, and Philly nearly beat them in Houston. West Westgate Las Vegas Superbook lists the Sixers as a 17-point favorite over Kentucky, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, and I think that’s generous. But hell, I’d like to see the two teams play. It’d make for great television, and might even generate a few headlines.

Nov 20 2014

Enjoy The Sixers For What They Are

Cherish this season. It might be the last one that doesn’t end in failure. 

I was recently asked about when I lost hope for the Eagles, and I could give the exact date. January 18, 2004. Eagles vs. Panthers. Our third consecutive NFC Championship Game appearance, and our third consecutive loss. Sixteen-year-old me couldn’t believe it. This was impossible. We put in our dues and this would be our reward. We were supposed to win. It was our right.

Ask any fan from any city, and they will be able to list off a litany of heartbreaks. But screw that, ours are worse: the Flyers in ’97 and ’10, the Eagles of the mid-2000s, the Phillies for the better part of the last century. Philadelphia fans have been trained — somewhat justifiably — to expect failure. It is almost pavlovian at this point. As soon as the whistle blows and the game starts, we are already prepared for inevitable disappointment. It is not if, but when. Something will go wrong. We will lose.

Speaking of losing, this brings us to the current Sixers team. Breaking news: This iteration isn’t very good. In fact, one could call them horrible. In fact, I’ll call them horrible. They are a horrible team as currently constructed. The smart money is on their losing 60-plus games, most by double-digits.

But here’s the thing: This time, it doesn’t matter. GM Sam Hinkie has a plan, and while it won’t lead to instant gratification, there’s an endgame in mind. So we soldier on, and suffer through the unwatchable basketball. Because right now, for the first time maybe ever, wins are irrelevant. Save for an injury, there’s very little that can go wrong, and that is phenomenally liberating.

So I say this with complete earnestness: I’m going to savor this season with all my heart and so should you.

Because as the team moves forward, so will our expectations. Starting even next year, we will EXPECT Embiid’s return, we will EXPECT Noel to become a force, and we will EXPECT MCW to grow into a floor general. More victories will be in order. It may not be a playoff team, but its evolution should be clear, and a more promising future visible.

Those expectations, however, carry with them the inevitable risk of disappointment, opening the door for the grim possibility of enduring failure. Embiid may never get right, Noel may be a bust, MCW may never develop a jumper. The team may never surpass mediocrity. In the blink of an eye, what once was hopeful may turn into something far uglier, something vulgar.

But right now, the future is a blank canvas. This may be the last chance we have as a group to savor an uncorrupted sense of optimism. I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it. You should too. After all, it may not last long.


Nov 19 2014

Sixers’ Utter Dominance Of Celtics Comes To Screeching Halt

Boston Celtics 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Philadelphia 76ers
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -3Like it or not, the 27-year-old Mbah a Moute is the veteran of this team. In the first half he was reliable veteran glue, hitting open shots, grabbing some boards, and actually playing the strong defense he’s (somewhat) known for. In the second half, K.J. McDaniels departed in favor of Luc after hitting a pair of much-needed threes within the span of a minute, because who cares about points… the Sixers need this veteran presence, right? Right??

Nerlens Noel, PF 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -15Okay, first a hard truth: Nerlens really needs to learn how to catch lobs. But although the box score doesn’t necessarily reflect it, this was a very strong game for Noel’s development. He was encouragingly aggressive (if not always efficient) on offense, crashed the boards, had another emphatic block to end a half, and looked less tentative overall than he did in the entire Texas trip combined.

Henry Sims, C 32 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -3At this point, Sims definitely looks more like the solid rotation player the Sixers hoped he might develop into near the end of last year than the guy who stumbled out of the gates in the first couple games this season. Since his game-tying shot against Orlando, Sims City has played confidently on the offensive end – but he simply didn’t help the Sixers enough in the paint tonight, where they got completely gashed.

Robert Covington, SF 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -11Robert Covington, who sounds like a Downton Abbey character, is a current Sixer who almost certainly won’t be a Sixer by the end of the season, so let’s talk about him now. He’s perfect for the current 76ers because he’s a very silly player. He turned the ball over on a designed in-bounds play near the end of the first half, went for the steal, was called for the foul, and swished a meaningless fall-away three-pointer – all in the span of two seconds. He’s already the greatest irrational confidence guy we’ve had since Swaggy P (non-Wroten division) and I hope we never see him again.

Tony Wroten, SG 28 MIN | 7-19 FG | 6-9 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -4In theory, Wroten is an ideal back-up point guard: an offensive-minded slasher who seems to get to the basket every time he touches the ball but, seemingly while you’re not looking, still puts up high assist totals. He showed off a lot of that tonight, and damn, he would be such a luxury if he was even close to being a reliable free-throw shooter. I knew his half-court shot to end the third quarter was good the minute he let it go, because he is Wroten, and he defies all basketball logic.

 

By the Numbers

11 – the number of assists league-leader Rajon Rondo compiled in the second half, compared to just nine for the Sixers as a team.

Quote of the Game

“When the Sixers get 90 points or more… get 50 percent off the regular menu price at your local Papa John’s.” – Marc Zumoff, after Tony Wroten hit two DELICIOUS free throws in the final minute.

Tweet of the Game

Parting Shots

Of the Sixers’ last 47 games, they have won just five. Three of those five wins came against Boston. In other words, there was hope tonight, and we were reminded harshly, in the form of an emphatic, tie-breaking Gerald Green reverse jam in the third quarter, that hope this year is nothing more than a prelude to madness. The Sixers were simply no match for Boston’s bigger bodies, most notably Jared Sullinger and unlikely, perennial Sixers-slayer Brandon Bass. Next up is Phoenix, who they match up with fairly well on paper, but who notably lack human boo-magnet Evan Turner, tonight’s lone reminder that the future is still brighter than the dark, dark past.

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