Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia 76ers


Sixers: Week 1 and what’s up with this lineup??

Sixers’ Opening Week in Review (Home Team in CAPS)

Game 1 – Miami Heat 97 – SIXERS 87
The Sixers came out and set forth the early tone of the Doug Collins Era, eloquently summed up by Andre Igoudala in his pregame address to the fans in attendance, “We’re going to get to where you want us to be.” I had predicted a shellacking at the hands of an angry Heat squad, but the Sixers, showing a lot of heart and playing rather inspired basketball under Collins, avoided a complete catastrophe. The Heat were clearly the superior team, but the Sixers hung tough and pestered LeBron James into 9 turnovers as he continues to adjust to his self-appointed facilitator role. James finished with 16 pts, 6 reb, and 7 ast. Chris Bosh was held to 15 pts and 7 rbs, but Dwayne Wade, the third of Miami’s Big 3, carried the load, scoring 30 pts, grabbing 7 rebs, and handing out 4 ast to go along with 2 blocks and 3 steals. It seems to be only a matter of time before these three superstars can learn to play off each other’s strengths and once they can do that, Miami’s bench will have more clearly defined roles in which to excel. If Wednesday’s game was any indication, it seems James Jones is already rather comfortable in his role as a 3-point specialist off the bench, going 6 for 9 from beyond the arc and contributing a gigante 20 points.

As difficult as it is to stop yourself from dissecting the dynamics of one of the more intriguing teams in American sports, this is, after all, a Sixers Blog, so on to the home team. To their credit, they seem committed to Collins, committed to turning themselves into winners, and most importantly, committed to endearing themselves to Philadelphia, a city that holds blue-collar work ethic on high. Wednesday night’s effort was a good start to the Doug Collins Era, even if it doesn’t show in the win column.

One interesting subplot heading into Wednesday Night’s game (and in the Sixers’ 2 subsequent games, but more on that later) was the fact that both Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner started the season on the bench. As it would turn out, the starter’s were that only in name as Turner logged about 31 minutes on the floor compared to starter Jason Kapono’s 13 minutes, and Young punched in about 26 minutes of work, compared to Spencer Hawes’ 14 minutes. Turner and Young, as well as established sixth man Lou Williams, all acquitted themselves well in their 2010-2011 debut, with Turner finishing with 16 pts, 7 reb, and 4 ast, Young contributing 15 pts and 3 rebs, and Williams chipping in 15 pts and 7 ast.

For the sake of time, I’ll skip full-on recaps of the Sixers’ next 2 games, both losses, as there are pressing matters I want to discuss:

Game 2 Atlanta Hawks 104 – SIXERS 101 – The Sixers had a chance to tie late, but Andres Nocioni’s last second 3 was blocked by Josh Smith. Again, the Sixers played hard, but lost to a superior opponent, their youth and overall lack of talent too much to overcome.

Game 3 INDIANA PACERS 99 – Sixers 86 – By far the Sixers worst effort of this young season. Leading by double digits in the second quarter, the Sixers were unable to sustain their momentum and fell victim to a terrible third quarter cold streak during which they were outscored 27-15.

Analysis and Fodder:
1) As was alluded to earlier, a major topic of discussion has been Coach Collins’ decision to bring young franchise cornerstones Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young off the bench. While the stated logic behind the decision is that both players have a steep learning curve ahead of them and the intention is to maintain their confidence level by shielding them from the fire whenever possible, one has to question what good this is doing the team in the long run.

Turner has been wildly inconsistent following a solid debut, posting a goose egg in 19 minutes against the Hawks and just 9 points on 4 of 11 shooting in 33 minutes against the Pacers. This inconsistency is no doubt encouraging Collins to continue to bring his young star off the bench, but, to me, it is somewhat of a chicken/egg situation. Is Turner’s inconsistency a result of his constantly worrying about being pulled for making a mistake or is he actually just inconsistent, thus forcing Collins’ hand? In my opinion, the NBA is not like the NFL, where early struggles can severely alter the career path of a young player resulting in crushed confidence and zero chance of success. Turner needs to be given the opportunity to play his way into a comfort zone, learn the nuances of the game first-hand. If Collins is going to play him for 28-30 minutes a night anyway as he has, why not give Turner a vote of confidence by allowing him to start. As small a gesture as it may seem, the “starter” label may be the confidence boost that Turner needs to free him from whatever pressure he is currently feeling which is causing him to be hesitant and inconsistent. Playing with one eye toward the bench to see if coach is about to pull you has never produced results, and I think it is what has been holding Turner back.

As for Young, this is his 4th year in the league, with each of his previous 3 seasons being an improvement over the last. However, this year, his minutes have dropped significantly and it shows on his stat sheet as he has taken a step back in every major offensive category. I understand that a major reason for Young’s move from starter to coming off the bench is the makeup of the Sixers roster, but what is the point of starting Spencer Hawes at center if you are only going to play him for 10-15 minutes as Collins has thus far? Is having a traditional starting lineup that important to Collins? With the Sixers’ stated goal being to steadily improve, it makes sense to play your most talented players and adjust your approach based on their strengths. If the Sixers are to improve as a team, it will be a result of improved play amongst their most talented players, all young and inexperienced, not sudden revivals of vets like Jason Kapono, who inexplicably started 2 of the first 3 games. Young is in a similar situation as Turner where I think coming off the bench has been a detriment to his development this season as it has caused him to be hesitant to make a mistake.

I truly believe Collins has an opportunity to speed up the process of pulling this team out of the gutter by allowing its young nucleus to learn and develop together. While they may not be the perfect roster, this will at least allow for the development of some trade value so that Collins can build what he envisions the perfect roster to be. As it stands, the veterans on this team are immoveable due to hefty contracts, and, soon, the young guys will be stuck here too, as no team is gullible enough to trade for a young player who has shown no discernible promise for the future. Collins’ insistence on playing these guys off the bench will stagnate this roster and only make the climb more difficult for the team in the long run.

2) One thing to be excited about as a Sixer fan has been the play of Andres Nocioni. Nocioni, averaging 10 pts and 6 boards a game, has played his way into Collins’ starting lineup by playing hard and taking what is given to him. He seems to have a knack for playing within both himself and the flow of the game, avoiding ill-advised shots and turnovers. His ability to hit the open shot, something severely lacking on this Sixers squad, definitely helps his cause. I think as the season wears on, you’ll notice Philly fans take a liking to this guy for his work ethic and low maintenance attitude.

3) A pleasant surprise thus far this year has been the offensive effort put forth by Lou Williams. Williams just turned 24 last week, something many fans don’t realize as he was drafted out of high school. Has his offensive explosion off the bench been a result of the game finally clicking for Williams? This week will help to answer that question as Williams has been almost unconscious from the floor in the first 3 games compared to his career averages. If, after 10 games, Williams is still maintaining this pace, I think it would then be appropriate to discuss whether he’s finally had his epiphany, but for now, let’s just call it a hot streak.

4) ESPN’s Marc Stein obviously felt no obligation to be kind to the Sixers, ranking them 28th (out of 30) in his initial NBA Power Rankings. While this team obviously isn’t very good, I don’t think they are that bad either. Just like Williams’ offensive streak, this week will go a long way in proving me, and Mr. Stein, right or wrong.

Up Next:

Nov. 2nd – at Washington Wizards

All 3 of these games are winnable as none of the above are expected to contend for anything. Hopefully, the Sixers can win at least 2 of these 3, and if not, it’s never too soon to start talking lottery.

Finally, the most recent edition of Philly Mag had a great article on the Sixers fall from grace since the turn of the century and high point of the Iverson led Finals run in 2001, and their most recent efforts to turn the tide. A great read if you have some time:


Happy Sixers Day!

The Doug Collins Era, Evan Turner Era, and Darius Songaila Era all get under way this evening when the Sixers take on the Miami Heat at the CoreStates/First Union/Wachovia/Wells Fargo Center.

Interestingly enough, the Evan Turner Era is off to an inauspicious start as Sixers coach Doug Collins announced that Turner will start his rookie year coming off the bench along with fellow youngster Thaddeus Young in a move that surprised most. This has to be troubling to all Sixers fans, especially in light of recent rumors floating in NBA circles that Turner has “draft bust” written all over him. Collins cited Turner’s slow adjustment to the NBA style of play as being the reason behind the decision, however Turner’s summer and preseason play did nothing to convince Collins that he had to be on the court. Turner has great pedigree and was a great player in college, so to doubt his talent this early would be foolish, however it must be disheartening to any Sixers fan to see their next supposed franchise “savior” be unable to crack the starting lineup on a team seemingly destined for the lottery. The worst thing Sixers fans can do at this point, though, would be to panic and heap criticism on the rookie. If come April, Turner still can’t crack the lineup, then it may be time to start talking, but some rookies take longer than others to grasp what it takes to play in the NBA, and Collins is notoriously hard on young players.

The Sixers will take the court with Jrue Holliday, Jason Kapono, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, and Andre Igoudala to match up against Dwayne Wade, Carlos Arroyo, Joel Anthony, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh, last night’s starters for Miami.

Tonight’s game is one that the Sixers will likely have to look for moral victories over one in the win column. The Heat were frankly embarrassed by the Celtics last night, held to just 80 points, tallying only 9 in the first quarter. LeBron James had 31 points but also committed 8 turnovers in his first game as the self-proclaimed second coming of Magic Johnson. Fortunately for Heat fans, and unfortunately for Philadelphians looking for a sports team to hang their hat on in the wake of this weekend’s disasters on the football field and baseball diamond, the Sixers are next up for a team that many had expected to push 70 wins this year. Expect Miami to come out firing. Dwayne Wade (13 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast) and Chris Bosh (8 pts, 8 reb, 2 ast) were profoundly silent against the Celtics, and will certainly be looking to get up to pace offensively, so look for a much more balanced Miami attack with all three of Miami’s superstars scoring in double figures.

As has been mentioned throughout the offseason, 2010-11 will be all about building a foundation for the Sixers. They are definitely not contenders, but certainly have a young enough nucleus in place that fans will accept marked improvement in play over the course of the season as a measurement of success for this team. This is good news for the Sixers because all indicators point to Wednesday being a rough night for Doug Collins’ crew.


Miami comes out angry after their debacle Tuesday night in Boston, hits on all cylinders offensively, and puts the Sixers away early. Heat win 115-91.


Sixers 2010-2011 Checklist

The 76ers are set embark on yet another new coaching era (their 7th since Larry Brown left in 2003), this time under Doug Collins, a coach whose most notable achievement in coaching to this point was being Phil Jackson’s predecessor in Chicago. Collins has a project on his hands here in Philadelphia. The Sixers haven’t had a winning season since 2004-2005 and even then they lost in the first round of the playoffs. While this Sixers team boasts a boatload of youthful talent and seems to have at least some semblance of a plan for the future, there is still much work to be done in order to turn this team into a contender. Below, I have concocted a checklist of steps to success that I feel the Sixers must follow in order to return to relevance in Philadelphia.

1) Get rid of Andre Igoudala, even if it means taking 50 cents on the dollar. Igoudala’s reign in Philly as the “go-to guy” has been disappointing to say the least. I honestly do believe that Igoudala is a good player as proven by his time on Team USA this summer, however he is not A) capable of being “the man” on an NBA team or B) worth the nearly $12.5 million he is due this year. Igoudala is a world-class defender and possesses athleticism that most can only dream of, but he just doesn’t have “it”.  In his 7th season, any success as a leader that he may be destined for should have been evident by now. Given his skill set (great defender, a slasher on offense) Igoudala would make a great Artest to someone’s Kobe, but unfortunately for the Sixers, their “Kobe” to be, Evan Turner, plays the same position as Igoudala. You may ask why shedding Igoudala takes precedence over getting rid of Elton Brand. Do not get me wrong, shedding Brand and his monstrous contract would only help the Sixers, but the market for Igoudala is significantly more lucrative than the market for Brand. Also, Brand could be more useful to the team given the current roster, which is guard/small forward heavy.

2) Bring Evan Turner along slowly. No one expects the Sixers to win 50 games this year. Turner, who last year suffered from a stress fracture in his back, will no doubt hit the “rookie wall” late in the season. Given the wide-open nature of the Eastern Conference, where it is not inconceivable that a team with a 38-42 record can make the playoffs, the Sixers could find themselves in position to make some noise come May. With the abundance of youth on this team, and considering that team and coach will need time to develop a relationship, the Sixers should not expect to peak until late in the season. If they are able to sneak into the playoffs, a healthy Turner will no doubt be a difference maker.

3) The continued development of Jrue Holiday. Thankfully and mercifully, the Lou Williams at PG experiment was brought to an end when the Sixers drafted Holiday as their PG of the future. As a huge Sweet Lou fan, I still hope that he can find his niche here in Philly, but it will not be at PG. Holiday has the tools to be a great PG, speed, athleticism, uncanny passing ability, etc, but being a true PG in the NBA is a whole different beast. There are so many nuances to the position, it takes years to develop, especially considering Holiday left college early and lost those valuable years of development. One of Doug Collins’ bigger challenges in his first year as coach will be helping Holiday make the leap to being a true NBA PG. If the Sixers can establish him in his position, with so much youth and talent filling out every other position on the roster, this team can establish itself as a perennial playoff team with the emergence of a true PG to distribute the ball to the likes of fellow young guns Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Marreese Speights.

4) Establish someone as the starting center. Whether it be Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, or Marreese Speights, Collins’ coaching style, which emphasizes ball control, quality possessions, and defense over the run and gun style of someone like Mike D’Antoni, requires a center in order to be successful. Brand would be an undersized center, but has proven in the past that he can be a successful rebounder despite his lack of size. Hawes is probably the only true center on the roster with a chance of seeing much playing time, but he is young and unproven. Speights, in my opinion, is better suited to the Power Forward position given his speed and athleticism and if Hawes or Brand can step up to fill the 5 spot, it would only benefit the Sixers to have some combination of Speights and Brand or Hawes on the floor as opposed to only one of the three at a time given the emphasis on ball control in Collins’ system.

5) Keep the floor spread. This is where players like Jason Kapono, Lou Williams, and Jodie Meeks are of benefit to the Sixers. If these three can find their stroke, it will open the floor for attackers like Turner, Holiday and Young. This, more than anything, will be key to the Sixers success in 2010-2011. With an offense predicated on success in the halfcourt, it is essential that defenses not be able to clog the lanes or lay off the perimeter. If the Sixers can keep the floor spread, it will be worth at least 5 or 6 wins this year, which could be the difference between the playoffs and the lottery.

Oct 27th and the arrival of Miami’s Big 3 is just a few weeks away, and the Sixers main rotation has been coming into focus in the last few preseason games. The Sixers have a long, uphill battle to becoming relevant, but following my checklist above will help the team to get there more quickly.


Sixers Summer of Change

Before I start, I’d like to take an opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Ian Stancato, I’m a huge basketball fan, and I owe a lot to these guys (the other Phour) for allowing me to jump on here. In this space, I’ll do my best to break down what I think the Sixers are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how they can continue to improve week in and week out. I’ll discuss highlights, lowlights, and controversy. Being that Philly is an absolute dream for any fan of the sport, I will also touch on the local college scene from time to time and, when the next Tyreke Evans is growing up in town, I’ll touch on that, too. Let me know what you like, dislike, etc, I’m a huge fan of feedback, so get at me. On to some hoops…

While summer is usually anything but a hotbed of hoops discussion, most summers don’t boast the most intensely scrutinized free agent period of any sport, ever. Regardless of who your team is, it was impossible not to spend hours a day trying to sift through all the rumors surrounding D-Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron. Now that the dust has settled, we all know how the situation resolved itself and, as a result, we’ve all watched countless hours of pointless analysis of the “new” Heat. In that time, and largely ignored by the media even in Philadelphia, the Sixers were active in acquiring several new players as they continue to work towards building a perennial contender.

New to the team are Andres Nocioni, Spencer Hawes, and Tony Battie. Make no mistake about it, none of these guys are going to turn a 27-55 team into a contender, however their arrival does signal a larger sea change within the organization that should give die-hard fans at least a glimmer of hope. Gone is the Haitian Sensation, Samuel Dalembert, and with him goes one of the ugliest contracts in Sixers history. The organization has seemingly finally given up on trying to sell Sammy D to basketball-savvy Philadelphians as an elite big man. Granted, Sammy D put up some solid stats on paper, but those numbers never translated to wins for the Sixers with Sammy D in the middle.

The Sixers organization seems to finally have committed itself to rebuilding instead of spending another long year convincing itself that it had the pieces in place to simply “fill in the blanks” and contend. The team hired Doug Collins as coach, noted for having steered rebuilding jobs in the past. They went after the best available talent in this years’ draft (Evan Turner) as opposed to going after the player that would have been the best “band-aid” for their current roster (Favors or Cousins) and make another run at the 7 or 8 seed in the East.

The Sixers have one of the most solid young cores in the NBA today with Turner, Jrue Holliday, Thaddeous Young, and Marreese Speights. If the Sixers are committed to building a solid franchise with sustainable success, these four guys are their only “untouchables”. Everyone else should be available for trade and the Sixers shouldn’t be too picky about the right price, especially if a trade involves dumping Elton Brand and his ~$17 million a year deal, or Andre Igoudala and his ~$15 million deal. Igoudala is not simply not suited to being the #1 option on a good team and, unfortunately for the Sixers, they are paying him like he is. He is the epitome of the “upside potential” era, when players were drafted highly based on athleticism and not ability, an era when teams thought they could take tremendous athletes and turn them into even better basketball players, neglecting the fact that there is more to being a good basketball player than athleticism alone. Tayron Thomas is another good example of “upside potential” run rampant. The risk the team took in paying Brand so extravagantly has officially backfired. He is not likely to return to his pre-Achilles tear form.

Change is difficult to accept especially in sports but, generally, once it is fully embraced, success is not far around the corner. As the Sixers work to cut ties with past mistakes, future success gets closer, especially if they can continue to build on young talent with high basketball IQ, not simple athleticism.


SIXERS: Team Needs to Address Front Office Before Finding New Coach

Well I think we can all say that after a promising finish to the 2009 NBA season, we were all extrememly disappointed in our Philadelphia 76ers pathetic performance this past season.  They went 27-55 and won just 12 games at the usually half empty Wachovia Center this past season, and saw their two top players, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, take steps back in their progression on becoming stars in the league.  While we were all expecting those two players to help lead the Sixers back to the playoffs for a third straight season, it was the inconsistent play of the two young players that were one of the main reasons for the Sixers struggles this season.  This team never established any type of identity under now fired coach Eddie Jordan, who was supposed to bring balance to the offense.  Instead the offense struggled all season, and the defense was even worse.  This team missed Andre Miller in so many ways; the fast break offense, the defensive presence but most of all his veteran leadership.  Iguodala showed none of that, something that you need to see when you give someone a contract like he got.  I think he is way overpaid and not worthy of being called an NBA franchise player.  This team needs a complete new direction and it starts at the top.  Right now the Sixers are in the process of finding their new head coach.  Let me tell you now that if GM Ed Stefanski is  not fired, it will not make a difference who the team brings in as head coach.  What this team needs is a guy who will come in and take complete control over all basketball operations, similar to whar Donnie Walsh does for the New York Knicks.  Unfortunately, the Sixers have spent so much money on guys who are not worthy of it (Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala) that they now have no money to spend on one of the big free agents on the market this summer, like Chris Bosh or Dwayne Wade.   We  need new leadership that is going to understand that this team will not be ready to compete for a while.  We need to find a way to unload players like Brand and Iguodala who are just eating up money and not producing for their value.  And then we need that GM to find a head coach that he knows can restore the glory that once was 76ers basketball.  We currently hold the sixth pick in the NBA draft this summer.  If we do not hit one of the top 3 lottery spots, I honestly think we should consider moving down in the draft and accumulate more picks.  With the exception of John Wall, Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors, I do not see one player worth taking that can be expected to change this whole mess around.  The Sixers are in need of a major overhaul and we can only hope that ownership will realize it.  But judging from their past tendencies, they probably won’t and things really won’t change much.


SIXERS: Iverson Returns to Lead Sixers in Upset over Portland

The Sixers got a huge win the other night against a very good Portland Trail Blazer team in the Rose Garden.  With Allen Iverson back in the lineup for the first time in four games, the Sixers followed their veteran leader to a huge upset, winning by double digits on the road.  Iverson had his best game of the season since he returned to Philadelphia, scoring 19 points on 7 for 11 shooting.  This is a big change from the Iverson of old, who used to score more points but would take (and miss) and ton of shots.  Rarely did we ever see A.I. have a night in which he shot over 50% from the field.  Iverson’s return helped spur the Sixers to a victory, hopefully one they will be able to build off of when they visit Chester native Tyreke Evans and the Sacramento Kings tonight at Arco Arena. 

Playing againts former teammate Andre Miller for the first time since he left for free agency, the Sixers received an outstanding performance from Elton Brand off the bench.  Brand dropped 25 points to go along with his 9 rebounds.  I have been very critical of Brand’s play in the past, but I will give the man credit in that he has been playing very good basketball as of late, especially in the team’s last two wins against Boston and Portland.  The good thing for Brand is that he can come off the bench and play efficiently, while not having to carry the entire burden of playing close to 40 minutes and defending the paint all night.  With fellow big man Marresse Speights having an excellent season thus far as well, the two bigs can split time to give each other rest when they need it.  Thaddeus Young seems to be able to play power forward too, and he has been the starter at that position since Lou Williams returned.  With the lineup of Iverson, Williams, Iguodala, Young, and Dalembert (who continues to be a disappointment despite still showing signs of promise), the Sixers have a good mix of young talent and veteran leaders.  With guys like Brand, Speights, and Jrue Holiday coming off the bench, the Sixers have some depth at each position.  Hopefully they can put it all together and get a few wins.  The team hasn’t won two straight since early November.  Tonight against the Kings would be a good time to turn that around.  They will need a strong defensive effort to get it done, as the Kings average over 104 points per game and have found their new star player in Evans, who is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.


SIXERS: The Return of the Answer

The prodigal son has returned to Philadelphia.

Ladies and gentleman, the Answer, Allen Iverson, one of the greatest players to ever don a 76ers uniform, has returned.  He led the Sixers to their greatest season in recent memory, taking the team to the Eastern Conference title, capturing league MVP honors along the way.  He has three scoring titles, a plethora of all star appearances, and was the heart and soul of this city for over ten years.  However, in 2006, it was clear that a parting of the ways was necessary for both sides.  Iverson went to Denver, and in return we got Andre Miller, who took us to consecutive playoff appearances in 2008-09.  While he was very good for us, he could never fill the shoes of Allen Iverson.  The Answer failed to live up to expectations in Denver, failing to get the Nuggets past the first round for the two seasons he played in the Mile High city.  This led to him being traded last fall to Detroit for Chauncey Billups, who went on to lead the Nuggets to their best season in recent memory.  Iverson left Detroit, signed with Memphis, then retired, then came back to where it all started: Philadelphia.

So what does this all mean?

It means that attendance is going to temporarily skyrocket, something that is drastically needed, as it is becoming pretty embarrassing playing in front of a half empty arena every home game.

It means that the Sixers have a point guard for the time being while starter Lou Williams is on the shelf nursing a broken jaw.

It should mean that the team’s overall play will improve (it can’t get any worse, right?)

What it doesn’t mean is that the Sixers are going to completely turn the season around.  There are still a lot of issues, including the poor defensive play nearly every night.  There is also no way to tell how well Iverson will play.  He is not going to be the same Answer we once knew.  I still believe he can and will have something to offer.  What we can’t have is an Iverson who is going to bring a bad attitude.  He seems so happy to be here, back with the team and city that he built his legacy with, but then again his reputation preceeds him.  Who knows how he will take coming off the bench once Williams returns to the starting lineup?

For now, though let’s welcome back A.I. with open arms and pray he can deliver some of the magic of old.  He officially rejoins the Sixers tomorrow night against his former team, the Denver Nuggets.

The Philly Phour

August 2017
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