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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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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