Post game: Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors

If there is a game that symbolize the Raptor season, it’s this game.  The Raps got off to a slow start, work themselves back in it and then have a huge lead, only to blow it all and won the game in overtime.  Sort of fitting isn’t it?  When they can get 4 to 5 stops in a row, they go on a huge run, and everyone would make their shots.  But when they start turning the ball over, and giving up transition points, they couldn’t make a shot to save their lives.

Philly has nothing to play for, but they never quit.  It didn’t look like a tanking team (though Iggy’s 3 point shot with 29 seconds left in the overtime, do look like someone who has no interest of winning the game).

Keys to the win:

– Hot shooting.  When we shoot like this, we are tough to stop.

– Sonny Weems.  Another solid game for Weems, 18 points in 26 minutes with no turnovers.  Strange that Triano didn’t play him in the fourth quarter and overtime.

It’s an ugly win, 20 turnovers were way too many.  And some of those were cost by the pressure defense that Philly played.  They liked to go for steals and get fast break points.  Tomorrow, the Raps will play Golden States and the only defense they play is when they go for steals, so the team has to limit their turnovers.  The Warriors will go for steals, so a pass fake (if anyone on this team could do it), would be very good.  Chicago beat Charlotte tonight, so we will have to win on Sunday to stay 2 games up.

In closing, I would like to say a few words on the 76ers.  I truly didn’t expect their record to be this bad.  When you look at the talent on this team, and compare it to the Charlotte Bobcats, it’s very similar.  The Bobcats’ best player (Gerald Wallace) maybe a little better than Philly’s best player (Iggy), but the difference isn’t that big.  You looked at Philly’s top 5 players vs Charlotte top 5 players, again you could argue Charlotte has a little bit more talent, but not by a lot.  Plus, the Cats doesn’t have a lot of depth, so it’s not like they are running away in terms of bench scoring.  Bobcats ranked 24th in Offensive Efficiency while the 76ers ranked 20th.  The Bobcats are even more turnover prone than the 76ers and they don’t have a lot of guys who can shoot the 3.   But how is it that the Bobcats are 4 games over .500 and the 76ers are now 24 games under .500

The biggest difference is defense, the 76ers ranked 20th in the league while the Cats ranked #1.  But when you looked at 76ers personnel, they shouldn’t be this bad on defense.  They have Iggy, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Dalembert.  These guys are athletic and quick, not many teams have 4 guys with that kind of athletic ability, and it should translate on defense.  Throughout the season, they allowed teams to get easy layups.  The perimeter defense is extremely leaky, the rotation is slow, and the coaching staff seems incapable of motivating these guys to play defense (sound familiar?).  Look at today’s game for example, Bosh or Bargnani post up Iguodala, and no one came to help and the Raptors ending up with easy baskets.

Obviously, the 76ers will look to make a move in the offseason.  But with a number of big contracts, I am not sure what they can do.  Obviously, they will make some decisions based on draft positions and go from there.  An 8th or 9th pick isn’t going to do any good for them.  They will probably fire Eddie Jordan.  Jordan isn’t a bad coach, but he is certainly the wrong coach for this team.  They don’t have the personnel to run the Princeton offense, and they ditched it midway through the season.  He doesn’t have a good track record in terms of getting his team to play defense.  A Scott Skiles type coach would do wonders with this team. I actually think Skiles would fit perfectly in Philly, too bad he is in Milwaukee right now.

They do need a shooter in their starting rotation, you would think that’s not too difficult to find, but they have had one in 3-4 years.   They do have some young talent like Jrue Holiday/Thaddeus Young/Marreese Speights, but I don’t see them being all-stars.  Maybe it’s time to try to land a franchise player by packaging some of the young talent.  Iggy has shown that he is not the guy you can build around with.  His game reminds me a lot of Michael Finley when he was in Dallas.  Finley is a better scorer, but Iguodala has a better all around game.  And Dallas didn’t win until they have Nash and Dirk.  Iguodala is a nice supporting player, but shouldn’t be a number 1 option on any team.

GM Ed Stefanski deserves a lot of the blame for this mess, his inability to find a shooter, find a suitable replacement for Andre Miller, but the biggest mistake Ed Stefanski made was to offer max contract to Elton Brand instead of Josh Smith.  Smith was a restricted free agent, but if you offered a close to max contract, the Hawks ownership might not match it.  Not only Smith was younger, but he was also a much better fit.  Not to mention Brand can’t jump anymore and can’t rebound.  Rebounding was supposed to be his biggest strength.  Basically, Brand is now a one dimensional player, a guy who can hit a jumper, but a liability everywhere else.  Now you can’t trade him unless you get back an even worse contract.

If I am running the 76ers, I would do everything in my power to grab John Wall/Evan Turner.  Move Iguodala if you have to, package him + picks and one of Jrue Holiday/Thaddeus Young.  If that doesn’t work out, find some way to get that player from other teams.  Right now, the 76ers are in dire need of  a player to lead them to a brighter future, and if they don’t get that player, you will be seeing the 76ers in late lottery for years to come.


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