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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

76ers-Celtics: Three-Pointers Tell the Tale for the Sixers

The 76ers lost their second straight game Tuesday night, with a 110-91 loss to the Boston Celtics. For the Celtics, it was a franchise record 19th consecutive win. The Sixers are now 12-16, 3-2 under new head coach Tony DiLeo. The Celtics are 27-2, on top in the Atlantic Division, and have the best start for a two-loss team in NBA history.

Lou Williams and Marreese Speights continued their fine play off the bench, assuring that they will both continue to see quality minutes. Williams had 16 points and eight assists in 32 minutes, while Speights had 16 points, six rebounds, and three blocks in 31 minutes. Other double digit scorers for the Sixers were Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller with 14 apiece, and Reggie Evans with 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench.

Kareem Rush started in place of the injured Willie Green, but scored just four points in 19 minutes.

For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo both had 18 points, despite playing just 29 minutes each. Ray Allen had 16 points and Paul Pierce had 10. Eddie House and Leon Powe added a combined 28 points off the bench, to extend the Celtics' lead in the fourth quarter.

The real story here is that the Sixers went 0 for 11 from behind the arc, including an 0 for 5 performance by Andre Iguodala. On the season, Iguodala is shooting 23.5% from behind the arc, but still continues to put up three point attempts. He has 68 three-point attempts through 28 games.

The Celtics shot 50% from the behind the arc, including 2 of 3 from Ray Allen and 3 of 6 from Eddie House.

The 76ers are now 1-5 in their last six against the Boston Celtics. Their next game is 12/26 at Denver. They also have away games against Utah, Dallas, and San Antonio in late December to early January.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

76ers-Pacers: Pacers Hand Tony DiLeo First Loss With the Sixers

The Pacers only had nine players available to play, but still found a way to get the victory 95-94, handing Tony DiLeo his first loss as the head coach of the 76ers. The Pacers were without three of their starters; Troy Murphy, Danny Granger, and Marquis Daniels because they all have a viral infection. They were also without Maceo Baston due to a lower back injury. It was the second straight game they played without their stars.

T.J. Ford scored a jumper with 3.5 seconds left on the clock to give the Pacers their tenth win of the season.

The Sixers were without Elton Brand due to his shoulder injury. Andre Iguodala had a great game with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. Andre Miller had the eight triple-double of his career, scoring 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Samuel Dalembert contributed on both ends of the floor scoring 11 points but also getting 14 rebounds and swatting 5 shots.

Lou Williams and Marreese Speights both had another good performance off the bench. Williams has seen his minutes increase with DiLeo at the helm and scored 17 in 26 minutes. Speights has seen more time with Brand injured and scored 12 after he had a career high 17 last game.

Starting guard Willie Green injured his ankle in the first half. X-rays were negative but he did not return to the game. He finished with 2 points.

T.J. Ford led the Pacers with 25 points including the game winning two-pointer. Jarrett Jack and Travis Deiner both added 12 points off the bench. Jack also had a season high 8 assists. The Pacers missed just one free throw, shooting 94.4% from the line.

The Sixers next game is 12/23 at the Boston Celtics, the most dominant team in the NBA this year. They will play six road games in a row.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Philadelphia 76ers' All Time Starting Five

As our 76ers struggle presently, I decided to take a look back at the glory days and make a list of the best players in 76ers' history. Only seasons with 76ers were considered, so if a player was average for the 76ers and then exploded for another team, he did not make the list.

Center - Wilt Chamberlain - The "Chairman of the Boards" has to be considered one of the most dominating players in NBA history. The Hall of Fame center holds numerous NBA records; including scoring 100 points in a single game and being the career leader in rebounds. Chamberlain's dominance led to rule changes such as widening the lane and changes in inbounding rules. His only weakness was free throw shooting, where he currently holds the second worst career free throw percentage of all time. He was a 13 time All Star and a four time MVP.

Forward - Charles Barkley - "The Round Mound of Rebound" is one of the best power forwards the Association has ever seen. He was an 11 time All Star selection and won the MVP award once. In Barkley's final season with the Sixers', he averaged 23.1 points per game on 55% shooting and 11.1 rebounds per game. He career points average is 22.1 and he stands as one of the most efficient scorers in NBA history, with an unheard of 54.13% career shooting percentage. Standing at 6'6", Barkley was the shortest player in history to lead the NBA in rebounds in a season when he averaged 14.6 rebounds per game in 1986-1987.

Forward - Hal Greer - Greer started out for the Syracuse Nationals before they moved to Philadelphia to become the 76ers. He was selected to 10 consecutive All Star games from 1961-1970. He won a championship alongside Wilt Chamberlain in 1966-1967. He average 19.7 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game. He retired with over 20,000 points and 5,000 rebounds. In a game against the rival Boston Celtics, Greer scored 50 points.

Guard - Julius Erving- Dr. J is without a doubt one of the greatest players in NBA history. Despite having a poor supporting cast until Moses Malone came to town, Erving still led the 76ers to multiple NBA Finals. He was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1981, and led the team to the NBA Championship in the 1982-1983 season alongside Malone. He averaged 22.0 points per game for his career.

Guard - Maurice Cheeks - The former 76ers' head coach before he was recently fired, Cheeks was also a great point guard for the Sixers in the 11 seasons he played in Philadelphia. He ranks third all time in steals and eight all time in assists. He averaged 11.7 points per game in his career and two steals a game. He was a four time NBA All Star and four time NBA All Defensive team selection. He was the point guard one the 1983 NBA Championship team.

Honorable Mentions: Billy Cunningham and Moses Malone

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Elton Brand Out For a Month With Injury

76ers' star Elton Brand will be out for a month after suffering a dislocated shoulder. The injury is a fracture and a tear in a right shoulder, but luckily for the Sixers and Brand it will not require surgery. Brand was injured in the third quarter of the win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Injury is nothing new to Brand who missed almost all of last season with a left Achilles' injury. Brand is having one of his lowest scoring seasons of his career, averaging 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds. He had just four points and six rebounds through the three quarters he played Wednesday night.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

76ers Comeback To Beat Bucks, Improve To 2-0 Under DiLeo

The 76ers beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night 93-88. The 76ers outscored the Bucks 26-15 in the fourth quarter, to comeback and win the second game with new coach Tony DiLeo at the helm.

The win can be attributed to the Sixers' bench, as Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Marreese Speights all scored in double figures. Williams led all scorers with 25 points on 9 of 17 shooting. Andre Miller finished with 19, Speights added 12, and Young scored 10.
Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand had just four points each. They also each had six rebounds and Iggy added seven assists. It was another disappointing outing for Iguodala this season. He shot 2 of 14 from the floor.

Charlie Bell and Luke Ridnour led the way for the Bucks with 14 points apiece. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 13 points and Richard Jefferson finished with 11. The Bucks fell to 11-16 on the season. The Bucks shot just 13.3% from behind the arc, including an 0 for 4 performance by Michael Redd who finished with just six points.

This marks the second consecutive win for the 76ers to improve their record to 11-14. Granted both the wins have come against inferior teams in the Bucks and the Washington Wizards, they are still wins nonetheless. Hopefully the 76ers will continue to ride the energy a new coach brings to a franchise.

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76ers' New Coach DiLeo Promises a Return to Fast-Paced Basketball

Last season, the 76ers made the playoffs by running the floor, getting fast break buckets, and playing tight defense. The team recovered from an 18-30 start to make the playoffs and played a good first round series against the Detroit Pistons. This season, the 76ers have changed their offensive strategy to adapt to Elton Brand, but it has not helped in the wins column.

After a 9-14 start to the season, 76ers’ coach Maurice Cheeks was fired. Cheeks took all of the blame for the poor start, instead of blaming it on the poor performance of some key players. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo was chosen to replace Cheeks as the head coach. DiLeo’s last head coaching stint was in 1990 in Germany.

The 76ers adapted their offense to revolve around Elton Brand. Although this would sound like a good idea at first thought, Brand cannot do everything, especially when his supporting cast is underachieving.

However, DiLeo has plans to change the offense and bring the run game back to Philly. (It has worked for the Eagles; let’s see if it can work for the Sixers). DiLeo says he wants the team to run even more than they did on their incredible late season run last year. Says DiLeo, “When we can get out in the open court, we’re a great team. We’re trying to put ourselves into those situations.”

The main underachiever so far this year has been fifth-year shooting guard Andre Iguodala. His numbers are down on both offense and defense. Last season, he had career highs in points and steals, with 19.9 points per game and 2.1 steals per game. This season, he is averaging 14.8 points per game and 1.5 steals.

Adjusting from the primary scorer to the secondary scorer has been challenging for Iguodala. Hopefully a return to the run-and-gun style of offense will help him straighten out his game before the season is down the drain.

The best offense is a good defense. The 76ers are going to need to play much better defense as a team to force turnovers and give them fast break opportunities. If they are able to tighten up the defense and run on every opportunity, we can expect the 76ers to return to relevance again in the Eastern Conference.

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