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.

Nov 19 2014

5-on-5: Casper Ware, Schnitzels and Other Relevant Sixers Musings

1. Robert Covington is the ___ most talented player on the Sixers’ roster.

Eric Goldwein: 11th? This all depends on how you define talent. He’s 23, and was barely good enough to make this terrible team. He can shoot and play D, so maybe there’s a Danny Granger-ultra-lite in here somewhere. But I don’t think his odds of getting there are any better than say, Hollis Thompson’s.

Wesley Share: I’ll go 11th, ahead of what’s left of J-Rich, Drew Gordon and JaKarr Sampson.

Bryan Toporek: I’ll go with 10th, putting him above the corpse of Jason Richardson, Drew Gordon, JaKarr Sampson and, yes, Brandon Davies. It’s hard not to be intrigued by a 6’9” forward who shot 37.0 percent from deep and averaged 2.4 steals and 1.4 blocks in the D-League last season. Doubt he develops into anything more than an end-of-the-bench rotation player, but why not take the gamble and find out?

Xylon Dimoff: Agree with Eric that he’s the 11th most talented player. Shved and Mbah a Moute both get an edge over him by default due to their veteran experience, but that might not last much longer at the rate they’re currently playing.

Ben Smolen: 10th. Congrats Drew Gordon and JaKarr Sampson, you get the dubious honor of being the players on the Sixers that are worse than Robert Covington. Let’s not get carried away here on Covington: When the Sixers are the only team in the NBA hitting you up, you aren’t very good. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that he can develop into something of note, but, realistically, in three years he will just be part of the answer to a trivia question: Name the 82 undrafted players who played on the Sixers between 2013-2015.

2. Elephant in the room: when will the Sixers win?

Goldwein: Tonight. They’re home. They’re rested. And it’s a RIVALRY GAME. As bad as this season’s been, they’ve played well enough to be a 1-9/2-8 team. I expect them to continue hanging around against average/subpar teams when they’re at home. And even a broken roster gets it right 10 or so times a year.

Share: Tonight against Boston should be their best chance yet, but who knows, really. They’re the worst team in basketball, so any game they win – and that’s assuming they do in fact win this year – it will be an upset.

Toporek: Nov. 26, at home against Brooklyn. Last year’s squad stopped one game short of making history with the NBA’s longest-ever losing streak; this year’s team will stop one game short of tying the franchise record for worst-ever start to a season. The Nets don’t have the personnel to bully the Sixers down low, and MCW should be back up to full speed by that point, allowing him to hold his own against Deron Williams.

Dimoff: Honestly, I have no idea. I would agree with Eric that they could snag a W tonight, but after watching their putrid pick-and-roll defense in San Antonio I predict that Rondo will completely pick Philly apart. They’re just going to have to catch a team sleeping at this point, like they nearly did in Houston (and if not, they play the Lakers on March 22nd).

Smolen: 0-82! But honestly, I’ll go with tonight. The fact is the Sixers will be the underdog (rightly so) in every single game they play this year. But if the film Little Giants taught me anything, it’s that the underdog can win sometimes!! The Celtics are bad, it’s at home, it’s time for a Philly win.

3. What is Nerlens Noel’s floor and ceiling?

Goldwein: Floor: Larry Sanders. Ceiling: KG-lite. He’s frustrating to watch, perhaps moreso than other top prospects. But that may be because of overexposure. Noel is third among all rookies in minutes per game (27.4), and that has as more to do with desperation than merit. For now, he’s a talented but raw defender with no offensive game. He’ll improve, but it may take a little while.

Share: His floor, given his offensive skill set (or the lack thereof) is probably closer to Bismack Biyombo than Larry Sanders, but his ceiling, at least defensively, is probably Garnett. I have no clue about the offensive side of things though. Through ten games there’s no way to accurately project if he can be a poor man’s Garnett with a semi-competent mid-range game, or a completely one-dimensional player who’s a complete net minus on offense.

Toporek: His floor is Larry Sanders, a great athlete who relies on his physical tools more than a refined set of basketball skills. I’m seeing a ceiling of a Joakim Noah-esque player—someone who’s unlikely to ever become a true offensive threat, but a Defensive Player of the Year candidate who’s also a sneaky good passer. If Noel can develop a halfway reliable mid-range jump shot, you can play Embiid in the paint while sticking Noel at the high post to help facilitate the offense. Game, set, match, 2016-17 Sixers.

Dimoff: Floor: Brandan Wright, but only if he stays as jumpy as he is defensively and never learns anything outside of catching alley-oops on offense. I think his ceiling defensively is just a notch under Garnett, but he’ll have to learn to become that same communication anchor that KG was. I think it’s too early to guess his offensive ceiling; I’ve liked his passing ability so far, but he’s still very raw in terms of dribbling, posting up, and shooting.

Smolen: I agree that his floor is Sanders–an athlete that impacts the game on the defensive end, but never really develops as a fully-rounded basketball player. Ceiling: A rich man’s Marcus Camby–a perennial defensive player of the year candidate, a multi-year block king, and limited but productive offensive game. I know that rich man’s Marcus Camby may not sound too desirable, but if he’s the third best player on your team (Embiid plus top 3 pick this year), you can win A LOT of games that way.

4. What’s wrong with Hollis Thompson?

Goldwein: Variance. His 36 percent field goal shooting (33 percent 3pt.) are down from last year (46, 40), but he’s played only 10 games, most of them without the starting point guard. If a few of those 3pt. attempts bounced in, he’d be in line with the 2013-14 efficiency numbers. Also, worth considering that last season was somewhat of an aberration. This is an undrafted free agent we’re talking about.

Share: Part of it, as Eric said, is variance, but playing in a lineup with a pass-first point guard consistently should help him get some more looks. He’s also been pretty passive after an aggressive preseason – he receives 32.5 passes per game and makes 30.8 passes per game, according to SportVU tracking data.

Toporek: This is who Hollis Thompson is, dating back to his college days. He has the potential of becoming an above-average shooter, but remains wildly inconsistent. He’s not a guy capable of consistently creating his own looks—nearly 80 percent of his made shots this season have been assisted, per NBA.com—so the early-season absence of MCW didn’t help, either.

Dimoff: Honestly, this might just be regression to the mean. Nylon Calculus says it takes 750 shots for us to learn what kind of shooter a player really is, and it could very well be that Hollis is just league-average and last season was just a fluke. Brown has suspiciously drawn up very few plays for him this year though, so I remain hopeful that he can improve if he gets a larger role in the offense.

Smolen: Skill set. Hollis Thompson isn’t a very good basketball player. Not very good basketball players often do not very good basketball things. With MCW’s return, Thompson hopefully should see his numbers rebound slightly with more open looks, but, at the end of the day, we need to make our peace with the idea that he is a fringe-level NBA player.

5. What do you think Casper Ware is doing right now?

Goldwein: Apparently he just signed with a German team. So, ummm, eating a schnitzel.

Share: He signed in Germany on Nov. 1, narrowly missing Oktoberfest, so….yeah, Eric was on to something here, definitely eating a schnitzel.

Toporek: Becoming Germany’s favorite American since David Hasselhoff.

Dimoff: The following is (sadly) not a joke: I had a dream the other night that Philly bought out Ware’s contract with his German club and re-signed him to a four-year completely unguaranteed deal. I was legitimately upset when I woke up and realized it was a dream. I… I don’t want to talk about this right now…

Smolen: Casper Ware, physically, is in Germany. Emotionally though? He never left Philadelphia.

 

Nov 17 2014

Spurs Beat Sixers; Sky Is Blue

Philadelphia 76ers 75 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 San Antonio Spurs
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -4While defensively he’s definitely a useful rotation player, his offense is, well, not the best. Often times he ends up spotting up from mid-range or getting looks from long range in transition and for the most part it doesn’t end well. K.J. should be cracking the starting lineup regularly soon(ish), in which case we’ll be seeing LRMAM more in moderation. But, until then…yikes.

Henry Sims, C 28 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -15We couldn’t have expected much more against the defending champs, but Sims City continues to be a negative on defense. He was, however, less shot-happy offensively and played more with his back to the basket, which is encouraging, seeing as his mid-range game is less reliable than his inside game (44 percent vs. 63.6 percent in the restricted area this season).

Hollis Thompson, SG 26 MIN | 1-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -33We’ll always have Preseason Holliswood. Playing more with MCW should help him get more spot-up opportunities, but he’s been brutal thus far, having now plummeted below 39 percent shooting through 10 games.

Nerlens Noel, PF 25 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -7Nerlens struggled to get touches tonight, a common product of inhabiting the same paint that Tim Duncan patrols. But he hustled hard for some boards late, which is the only way he can rebound at this level right now with his slender frame, so that was promising.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 30 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | -5McDubs looked comfortable with the ball in his hands for the first time since his return last week, showing flashes of an improved floater we saw here and there late last season. Look for him to return the starting lineup as Philly heads home this week.

By the Numbers

17 – Years of NBA experience for Tim Duncan.

16 – Years of NBA experience for entire Sixers roster.

Tweet of the Game

Parting Shots

Even when the Sixers pulled within 10 early in the fourth quarter, this game was the longest of long shots. With a brutal Texas road trip now in the rearview mirror, Philly can take a deep breath and head home for a, *gulp*, winnable game against Boston on Wednesday.

Nov 16 2014

Four #LukeWarmSportsTakes on the Sixers’ 0-9 Start

Your basketball team is bad. Get used to it.

1) Fluke, or future?

As I touched on a bit here, the first few weeks of the NBA season are somewhat of a feeling-out process. Most teams need more than a month of meaningless exhibition games to get back into a rhythm, which allows up-and-down squads to pull off upsets, or in the Sixers’ case, keep games close.

Given that, we might have to start considering that the first six games (all competitive losses) were as fluky as the blowouts against Toronto (120-88) and Dallas (123-70). Sure, the Sixers played poorly, and were victimized by variance in those defeats. But when a weak squad has an off night against an elite team that’s firing on all cylinders, 40-point losses happen. Just ask the Nuggets and Rubio/Thad-less Timberwolves.

The Sixers responded on Friday by nearly defeating the Rockets, and that result shouldn’t surprise us either. Sometimes they’ll get blown out. Sometimes, they’ll lose heartbreakers. And they might even win the occasional game. It’s an 82-game season. Shit happens.

2) This is (currently) the NBA’s worst personnel 

In terms of raw and undeveloped talent, there are certainly teams that are worse off than Philadelphia (cough-LAKERS-cough). But here are two points worth considering:

1) Only six players[1]who were on the Sixers at the end of last season are currently on the roster. Continuity matters in the NBA, and it would be foolish to expect any positive production from an undeveloped team with a defensive scheme as complex as Philly’s after such a large roster turnover.

2) And if you expected the additions of K.J. McDaniels and Nerlens Noel or the development of Michael Carter-Williams to translate into more wins, think again.[2] Noel and McDaniels – although both thrilling players – are still just 20 and 21 respectively and far from learning their NBA roles offensively. While they may be good for 3.3 collective blocks per game, expecting them to produce right away would be naïve.

Additionally, Michael Carter-Williams just had a seven-month break from organized basketball. I’d be hesitant to expect a major leap in the early part of the season, as he missed crucial development time while sitting out the summer and will probably take a while to get his legs back under him.

3) This defensive scheme is really hard to learn

Wesley does a great job detailing the Sixers’ defense here; basically, the core of the system (although not exclusively, depending on the opponent, on-court personnel, etc.) is to pack the paint by zoning up on pick-and-rolls[3] down the middle, while bringing in strong-side wing defenders to help off the 3-point line. Opposing pick-and-rolls (or any action penetrating the middle of the floor) will ideally be met with a packed paint, and the strong-side defenders will have to recover to the arc if need be.

Not only is this defensive system physically tolling on the wings, but it also requires quick thinking and sharp instincts. Wing defenders have to know how deeply into the paint they should help and how far they can cheat off their man; reacting even a half-second late can lead to a wide-open shot for the offense. It’s bad enough that the Sixers’ newest roster additions had to digest this system over the course of training camp and preseason, but even the team’s veterans (and I use that term lightly) are still finding their way with this scheme.

Here’s an example of a miscommunication between Hollis Thompson (#31) and Henry Sims (#35). Thompson leaves his man, Chandler Parsons, to fall back in the paint and pick up a rolling Tyson Chandler; Sims quickly recovers and picks up Chandler, but before Thompson realizes it, Parsons is already standing unguarded at the 3-point line. The Mavs’ big free agent acquisition sank the shot and gave his team a 78-29 lead.

Hollis isn’t the only second-year Sixer that’s still making these little mistakes, and it doesn’t help that coach Brett Brown keeps switching the pick-and-roll coverage depending on the opponent. Watch here as Davies (#0) attempts to trap the pick-and-roll rather than zoning up, which eventually leads to an open Terrance Ross 3.

It’s unclear whether Davies blitzed here because he confused the coverage or if Brown actually called for the trap, but I suspect his assignment should’ve been to drop back since none of the wings rotated over as they typically would in a trapping scheme. By not dropping back, Davies gave Chuck Hayes a clear path to the basket, which forced Chris Johnson to cheat off of Ross and protect the paint. This play could’ve been salvaged had Jakarr Sampson rotated over to Ross and Davies sprinted over to James Johnson in the corner, but that communication was never made.

And that’s the key word: communication. There has been little of it thus far, and the defense is suffering as a result. Everybody needs to be on the same page for the Sixers defense to work. Like many defensive schemes, it operates on a string, and even the slightest misstep can lead to a total collapse.

Thompson and K.J. McDaniels do a great job of icing the side screen-and-roll here, but a miscommunication between Sims and Mbah a Moute leads to a wide-open Dirk Nowitzki. It happened because Sims was supposed to be the “two nine” guy[4] here; he was right to stay in the paint in case Chandler found a route to the basket, but Mbah a Moute starts moving to the paint to stop a rolling Chandler rather than sticking to his position at the nail.[5] Sims fails in trying to tell Mbah a Moute to pick up Nowitzki at the top of the key and starts running to pick up the blown rotation, but it’s already too late.

So as you can see, the Sixers have talent (and athletes) but  are having a hard time learning the system. It may get better as the season progresses, but it won’t happen overnight.

4) Take this team for what it is

I’ll try to keep the takes only lukewarm here. No, these crushing blowouts aren’t going to derail the Sixers’ plan. This was a team that was supposed to be bad, so of course they’ll suffer the occasional ass-kicking when they play the league’s top tier teams.

But even when the wins are few and far between, this’ll still be a fun team to watch. K.J. McDaniels and Nerlens Noel make defense exciting. Michael Carter-Williams’ is one of the league’s most intriguing projects. Tony Wroten makes a play or two a night that will make you fall out of your chair (for better or for worse). Brandon Davies might be the Second Coming.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy this season. We haven’t yet reached the point where wins and losses matter. We’ll have to wait a couple years until there’s a result worth freaking out about.

All video courtesy of NBA.com


[1] Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten, Brandon Davies, Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims, and (technically) Nerlens Noel.

[2] Even Kevin Durant couldn’t help his team win games his first two years in the league; the reasons are debatable, but in 2007-08 and 08-09, the Sonics/Thunder actually performed worse when their rising star was on the floor.

[3] Meaning that it sends the ball handler’s defender over the screen while the roll man’s defender drops back into the paint.

[4] “Two nine” in this situation refers to the big man who is supposed to patrol the paint in case any action is made toward the basket (the name “two nine” comes from the 2.9 seconds he can spend alone in the paint before being called for a defensive three second violation). Doug Eberhardt at SB Nation does an extensive breakdown of this concept here.

[5] The “nail” refers to a literal nail or indentation found in the middle of the free throw line on any basketball court, which also happens to be the position where weak-side defenders should position themselves when teams ice pick-and-rolls. Once again, Doug Eberhardt does an excellent job further explaining this concept here.

Nov 15 2014

Sixers Back To Being Just Bad, JaKarr Sampson Is Anchovies

Philadelphia 76ers 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 Houston Rockets
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF 32 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -15The decision to consistently give Mbah a Moute 25-30 minutes a night is highly questionable. He’s frequently touted as a “defensive specialist,” but he has failed to live up to that expectation and brings essentially nothing offensively. K.J. McDaniels may soon start taking some of the veteran’s minutes.

Henry Sims, C 30 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -8Sims allowed James Harden a fairly easy shot at the rim for the game-winning layup, but he gets an A regardless for shooting 75% and not getting destroyed by Dwight Howard. He hit some major shots down the stretch and played Howard about as well as we could’ve asked for. It’s starting to look like we have the old Henry Sims back.

Tony Wroten, SG 35 MIN | 7-16 FG | 3-6 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -15Michael Carter-Williams will eventually get the starting job back, but Wroten continued to make the case for why he deserves it, at least temporarily. Wroten took decent care of the ball, played the most disciplined defense we’ve seen from him all season, and even hit a major 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. His ability to get to the line may also be the Sixers’ only legitimate go-to scoring option late in games, which is scary to think about.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 27 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 13 PTS | +12MCW struggled to find his rhythm in the first half and made a crucial turnover at the end of the game, but overall he looked like he’s starting to shake the rust off. It’ll take a while though, keep in mind that this was just his second game of organized ball in seven months.

Brett Brown
This was probably Coach Brown’s first “bad” performance as the Sixers’ coach. (Or the first that we noticed). He made some questionable late-game decisions, including picking up a silly technical foul and making some puzzling personnel choices. But even after all that, the Sixers probably wouldn’t have been in a situation to win this game without him.

 

By the Numbers

20.6% – The Rockets shot just seven of 34 from downtown tonight. Somehow, that was worse than the Sixers.

Quote of the Game

“We gotta go up there and get the cheese.” – Malik Rose. I will not provide the context for this quote.

Tweet of the Game

So…

And then…


So you heard it here first: JaKarr Sampson is anchovies.

Parting Shots

This game probably shouldn’t have been as close as it was. The Sixers gave the Rockets a ton of wide-open 3s, and Houston uncharacteristically didn’t take advantage. The Sixers undoubtedly played with more energy (perhaps in response to the 53-point blowout) and could get their first win soon if that continues. As for tonight, the basketball gods gave them a chance tonight. Of course, they couldn’t capitalize.

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