17. This Team Sucks: The View from Philadelphia

Snips and clips from the Sixers camp, plus:


  • Missing Pieces
  • Is There a Plan D?
  • Haiku Game Review
  • Fried Rice
  • Blazers/Sixers Recap
  • Popcorn Machine + TBJ



Brand and Sixers Finish Off Blazers

by Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer

In recent days, the 76ers have focused on end-of-game situations. They have worked on how they react under pressure, on time and score, on taking a little more care when more care should be taken.

On Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Sixers had a chance to prove that they absorbed some of these lessons.

It appears they did.

The Sixers played well in the final minutes to defeat Portland, 88-79, at the Wells Fargo Center. * * *

In the fourth quarter, Portland scored only 11 points and shot 4 for 20 from the field. In the final minutes of the game, the Blazers could not find a crease on a pick-and-roll, on a drive to the hoop, or on a long-range shot. * * *



Interesting Stats

posted by PatronJames to RealGM Sixers message board

What's up with Holiday dishing only 1 assist? Only 23 minutes of floor time too. Odd. You never know with Collins.

Nocioni was big. Glad to have a guy like him who delivers when his name is called upon.

Iguodala finishes the game with only four FG attempts? Very strange.

Spencer Hawes shoots 5/7. Stranger.

The Blazers' reserves were held to 3/21 shooting. Great stat.

Nice win fellas. We have two days rest and then are back at it in Atlanta.



Good Job by Iggy

posted by Phastbreak91 to RealGM Sixers message board

Great perimeter defense this game especially Iguodala who shut Roy down. I really think being on team USA has helped him. He makes more crisp passes, his jumpshot looks a little better, but his defense has become elite in my eyes.

Just because a player scores on you or gets past you once or twice does not mean anything.



How About That 11 Point Blazer 4th Quarter?

Low scoring game... For those of you who watched the game, was the Sixers defense that good (esp in the 11 pt 4th quarter) or were the Blazers just missing shots?

posted by Ego to Liberty Ballers game thread

Missing shots.

posted by Michael Levin to Liberty Ballers game thread



Defense Lifts Sixers Over Struggling Blazers, 88-79

by Derek Bodner, Liberty Ballers (SBN)

On the surface, this looked like a potential turning point in the young 76ers season. Down 2 heading into the 4th quarter, the Sixers dominated the final frame to win at home against a potential Western Conference playoff team.

On the surface.

Looking at the Portland Trailblazers, their play of late indicates nothing akin to the team that has won 50 games in back to back seasons. With Greg Oden out for the year and a gimpy Brandon Roy, the Blazers had lost three in a row heading into the game tonight, including a bad loss two nights earlier to the New Jersey Nets. Sitting at 8-8 and on the second game of a 4 game road trip, the Blazers were ripe for the picking. * * *

In the end, it was Wesley Matthews, starting for the first time over Nicolas Batum on the perimeter (Matthews had started three prior games for injured Brandon Roy) who proved to be the biggest pest for the Sixers. The hot shooting guard out of Marquette scored 26 points on 16 field goal attempts to help the Blazers keep pace with the Sixers once the Trailblazers stars had cooled off.

For the second straight game, the Sixers were able to put together a great fourth quarter. Regardless of how well their opponent is playing, that's a great sign to see going forward. * * *



Leaning On the D

by Brian, Depressed Fan

The Sixers survived their third-quarter collapse and bounced back in a big way to notch their second win in as many games, and their fifth on the season. They won this game with a tremendous defensive effort in the second half, and the fourth quarter in particular.

Portland only scored 11 points in the fourth. * * *


  • I gave serious consideration to LaMarcus Aldridge for the player of the game nod, but I don't want to set a bad precedent. Aldridge did what Aldridge does, drift further and further from the hoop, play a generally soft game and use up a ton of positions to score his points. Thanks, LMA. * * *



Game 18 Recap: That's How You Close Out

by Nabeel Ahmadieh, Philadunkia (TrueHoop)

he Philadelphia 76ers (5-13) capitalized on a struggling Portland Trailblazers team to hand them their fourth straight loss with a 88-79 victory at home. After beating the New Jersey Nets on Saturday the Sixers clinch their first back-to-back wins of the new season and first consecutive wins since March 26th. The winning streak will be tested Friday when they travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks, a team that has won their last three matches.

What was most impressive about the ball game was how beautifully the ball club executed in the fourth quarter. Dominating the lifeless Trailblazers and holding them to only 11 points in the fourth. Portland only connected on 4-of-20 field goals to close out the ball game. The 76ers defense was stellar, during the final stanza and certainly a much better effort than what was seen in the first half. * * *

After a lifeless start to the second half (again), head coach Doug Collins went deep into his bench. Collins subbed in Jodie Meeks for Evan Turner with 9:12 remaining in the third quarter. It was Jodie's first action of the night and the last time we'd see the rookie Turner. Collins finished the game using 11 players who all tallied at least 10 minutes. A deep rotation which kept fresh legs in the long run and proved to be a winning formula. The only player dressed that did not see the floor was forward Darius Songaila. * * *



Sixers Use Defense, Balanced Attack to Defeat Blazers 88-79

by Enrico, The 700 Level

"What's the term for when you win one game, and then you win the next game after that," someone asked in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center following the Sixers 88-79 victory over the Blazers on Tuesday night. I believe it's a "winning streak," or "back-to-back" victories. The Sixers now have them for the first time since March of last season.

Perhaps the Sixers ran into the Blazers at the right time. Having lost three straight prior to tonight's defeat, Portland simply isn't playing well. "You've got to make shots," Portland head coach Nate McMillan said following the loss. "Confidence, it looks like. You're getting open looks but we're not knocking down shots. You're shooting 37 percent." * * *

"We limited him to jump shots," Elton Brand said of Aldridge's second half. "He was in the post a lot [in the first half]. He was getting tip-ins and rebounds, two-alley oops. A few miscommunications. So we made him shoot jump shots. He's a capable jump shooter also, but it wasn't the easy shots he got in the first half." * * *



Interesting Iguodala Quote

posted by svnty6rs3 to RealGM Sixers message board

Interesting quote from Iguodala after the game he said

"It was a key game for us playing against a team like that," he said. "In the post, they were doubling me a lot and I had to pass out. If we lose the game, it might be a problem, but we didn't lose the game, so I have no problems."

I dont know if im reading that wrong but it seems like Iguodala himself isn't happy when the game plan is for others to shoot the ball and him to facilitate. He is basically saying if they would have lost he would not have been happy with his teammates taking so many shots.



For Turner, the Time is Now

by Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer Deep Sixer blog

* * *
Last night at the Wells Fargo Center, we talked with Andre Miller before the game. Miller's 2009 contract situation with the Sixers is old news, but the clip gives you an idea of Miller's soft-spoken nature, as well as his confidence in his abilities. It's a leadership the Sixers' are certainly lacking. *  *  *



The Bottom Line:

1. This has been a trying season for our Sixers. Good to see things starting to get in order for them... First back-to-back wins in forever...

2. Shutting down Brandon Roy was Job One and it was accomplished nicely. Aldridge also withered on cue.

3. In a battle to close the game, the Sixers outperformed the Blazers. That's a sign of progress.

4. You say "crappy shooting," we say "good defense."



I. Missing Pieces.


Sunday night and Monday was a bleak time for Blazer fans. While the Blazers have certainly played worse games this season, the implications of being unable to put away the lowly New Jersey Nets — a team on the tail end of a back-to-back following their own 4th Quarter collapse against the even lowlier Philadelphia 76ers — were long and lingering.

Something very big is missing from this year's team, it seems. We as fans can see it, we can feel it. What could it be?

How could the "defensively oriented" Trail Blazers let yet another inferior team put up a season-high shooting percentage and walk away with the win? With Joel Przybilla not on the trip and his return moved back to some indefinite future date, from whom would the Blazers draw the necessary leadership to turn things around?

From the sedate Nate McMillan, he of the "you've gotta make shots" / "you've gotta make stops" school of analysis?

From Brandon Roy? Not exactly the most intense cat, as we have seen, a guy more into pacing himself for survival's sake than from getting out front and leading... From LaMarcus Aldridge? A skilled midrange shooting practitioner with the temperament of an insurance company actuary... From Andre Miller? A reclusive businessman... From Marcus Camby? A jaded veteran pondering post-retirement opportunities... From Nic Batum? A quiet kid whose fire for excellence is limited to personal goals, exhibiting no measurable leadership tools... From Rudy Fernandez? A guy struggling with his shot, just trying to keep his head down after ill-advised pre-season posturing by his agent... From Wesley Matthews? A newcomer, a second year kid, a bench player with only 16 regular season games in Blazer colors...

Tell me: where is the fire going to come from?

Armon Johnson and Luke Babbitt? Rookies with no gravitas — Gatorade servers and luggage carriers... Patty Mills? A bench cheerleader with as much chance of cracking the rotation as his colleague in Portland's Fan Motivation Department, Blaze the Trail Cat.

Can anyone really expect Dante Cunningham to step up and become the emotional leader of this team? He's a critical "Energy Guy," to be sure — just not The guy...

The Portland Trail Blazers have chemistry problems once again, my friends. That's what we are all unconsciously feeling. If the previous GM was "not a chemistry major," Kevin Pritchard's pendulum swung to the other extreme, placing extraordinarily high value on "team culture" and "character." After the Rasheed Wallaces and the Bonzi Wellses and the Reuben Pattersons and th Zach Randolphs, such a tidal shift was welcomed to the point of the GM's deification by Portland's long-suffering fanbase.

The current Trail Blazers roster was constructed largely in reaction to the idiotic excesses of the Jail Blazer years, that pack of towel chucking, dog fighting, ganja sucking, basketball card ID flashing, gun totting buffoons. Unfortunately, the cast of morons and thugs has been replaced by something resembling a sewing circle, a group of professional athletes better suited to career paths in dentistry or librarianship.


Think about it: Who were the energy guys of last year? I will list them for you:

  • Rookie Jeff Pendergraph — a guy not afraid to do dirty work in the paint — gone for the year and ingloriously cut from the roster, his locker cleaned out...
  • Jerryd Bayless — love him or hate him but a dude who moved his feet on defense and who was a paint-crashing cannonball on offense — shipped with his salary to New Orleans for a promissory note...
  • Martell Webster — a underappreciated talent ready to hustle and do whatever was was asked — dumped to Minneapolis for cap space...
  • Juwon Howard — a guy who stepped up and brought it as best he was able every night — now on the bench in Miami, near retirement.
  • Joel Przybilla — heart and soul blue collar masher — injured and sick and not even on the trip.
  • Dante Cunningham — solid off the bench and energetic on both ends of the floor — still here.

All we have remaining of the emotional leaders of this team, my friends, is an absent Joel Przybilla and a max contract Shooting Guard with chronic knee problems.

I'm sure there are are perfectly valid statistical reasons why the players departed are not to be considered elite players or even particularly good players. They were nonetheless essential players as complements to the core roster. Unfortunately, there are some things that don't show up on a computer screen that have been utterly ignored in the process of statistically "improving" the team — things like intensity in competition, energy on the floor, an ability to make demands of fellow players to bring passion to the workplace and to accept accountability.

The Portland Trail Blazers don't need another marketable star or even necessarily another coach or another offensive scheme. They desperately need leadership. And they need a General Manager willing to seek players not just based on so-called "advanced" statistics, but also based upon what Laker fans like to call "intangibles" — competitive drive and the ability to step up in critical situations.

The ball is in your court, Rich Cho.


*   *   *


II. Is There a Plan D?


There have been an explosion of posts in the sidebar over the last few days, the contemplations of Blazer fans as they stare into the abyss. Some have been good, some have been bad, as with everything in popular culture. One of them really caught my eye and got me thinking, a piece called "Is There a Plan B?" by Bedger skott75.

After noting the way that recurring injuries and chronic failure of intensity and performance had brought him to a 15-year emotional low as a Blazer fan, Skott made the following fascinating observation:

"It’s easy to support a good team. It’s easy to support a rebuilding team. It’s hard to support a lost team."

"I find myself in the unfamiliar position of not caring," Skott noted. "We have all been percolating over the potential this team had to become great, then in just a few days we were made to question the very direction of the franchise. Our (conceivably) championship core has been reduced to hopefully passable."

Skott quite correctly identifies Wesley Matthews and Dante Cunningham as essential "glue guys" going forward and, also quite correctly, I think, identifies Nic Batum as the one potential trade piece that could conceivably be converted into a difference-maker.

Skott doesn't mention the forthcoming return of Joel Przybilla, which will hopefully help in the intensity department as well as adding a much-needed additional goalie to the roster to help anchor the defense.

To Skott's point: It is indeed hard to get up the energy to rally behind a lost cause. To ensure lasting fan support, this current unit must demonstrate that they are a "good team" or moves must be made to transform the franchise into a "rebuilding team" — a proposition now greatly complicated by the forthcoming lockout and the the age and salary structure of Portland's moveable pieces.

As part of the same thread, the venerable Royster replied with a post which reviewed the succession of general plans followed under the Kevin Pritchard regime, starting in 2007. In Royster's view, there were three successive strategic models employed by Portland:

Plan A: Oden would become the dominant big man he was projected to be, Roy would play the part of the 2000-2003 Kobe to his Shaq, Aldridge would complement them, and the Raef LaFrentz's Expiring Contract would be parlayed into another elite piece. These would be surrounded with role players and the team would become a perennial contender behind an elite Big and an All Star caliber SG.


The loss of Oden to his first microfracture surgery and his "underwhelming" return season in turn lead to:

Plan B: Roy would emerge as a Shooting Guard of the Wade/Kobe caliber who could lead the team to a title. Oden would anchor the defense as a Mutombo-esque defensive force, along with Nic Batum, and would also provide some scoring punch together with LaMarcus to take some pressure off Roy. The team would still be a contender, albeit not the dominant team they might have been.

This in turn was sabotaged by the loss of Greg Oden to a broken patella and subsequent tendinitis, which lead to:

Plan C: Roy would remain still the leader as star Shooting Guard, but Oden would only likely come back as a defensive contributor (a la Mutombo on the Sixers). It would be Nic and Aldridge would would develop into All Star level offensive threats due to their athleticism. The Blazers would become a perimeter-based offensive team with an elite defense similar to the Boston Celtics.

Royster then summarized the current situation neatly:

"Of course, it was still all based on Roy and Oden being at least decent facsimiles of their best selves. Essentially everything we've counted on at some point in the process has come up wrong for us. We were all-in with Roy and Oden and, while the book isn't completely written there, it's looking like that won't pay off, and Nic and LA don't seem to be turning out like we needed them to if Roy and Oden couldn't be our primary guys.

"The sad truth is we're just out of contingency plans at this point, beyond just trying to ride things out and hope Greg and Brandon get healthy, LA and Nic make big leaps, and/or we pull off a miracle in a trade. As improbable as those may or may not sound, that's what we're reduced needing in order for this iteration of Blazers to become a title team. The alternative would be to starting blowing it up and go fishing for lotto picks."

All this is right on the mark, I think — some of the best analysis of the broad strategy of the Blazers brain trust that I've seen on Blazers Edge.

I just wanted to vet these ideas of skott75 and Royster once again, lest they be lost in the flurry on the Blazers Edge sidebar.


*   *   *








Lots more empty seats

But David Stern needs to learn

Rotten sells poorly





Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...


MB makes small talk over Philadelphia's number 2 overall pick from the last draft:

MB: "Evan Turner has had a hard life. As a child he had chicken pox, measles, pneumonia, and asthma — and was hit by a car when he was three."

Rice: "Sounds like a Blazer!"

MB: "His nickname was 'Lucky.'"


Miller done good on an assist...

Rice: "Andre says 'That's how I used to play here at the Wells Fargo Center!'"

MB: "It didn't used to be the Wells Fargo Center."

Rice: "I got the name right, I don't usually get the new names..."




Game 17.

Blazers 79 at Sixers 88.

November 30, 2010.

Blazers' record is now 8-9, the Sixers are 5-13.

1. For Portland: Offense — good, Defense — bad. Roy and LMA and Wesley did their thing on the offensive end, but Philly took it to the paint with great effectiveness against the soft and undersized Portland Bigs. Philadelphia opened shooting 77% through the first 10 minutes of the game; another crap team en route to season-high shooting. We have seen this before, eh? The teams ultimately played things pretty evenly, which should come as no surprise whatsoever, since the Blazers have been playing like inept Eastern Conference bottomfeeders lately... MB: "If you like defense, you've come to the wrong place — Philadelphia 71%, Portland 53%."  PDX 29, PHI 29.

2. Things went from bad to worse when Portland's shots started going awry. Inability to finish in the paint was the chief issue. On the other end, Philly abused Portland's slow-to-rotate perimeter defense. The ball moves faster than feet every time, someday when we're all much, much older maybe Nate will figure this out. If there was a bright side to the Blazers' inept attack, it was that long, clanging misses were giving copious opportunities for second chance long, clanging misses. The terrible Sixers and equally terrible Blazers also provided the half-full house with an outstanding exhibition of competitive turning over of the ball, with the Sixers grabbing an impressive 10-to-9 lead at the break. It was a veritable crap fiesta at halftime: PHI 47, PDX 46.

Halftime Entertainment: GREA T video of The Revillos "Motorbike Beat" live (c. 1980)

3. Blazers came out determined, I guess that would be the word. After a 10-1 run to open, Philly coach Doug Collins needed time. By the way, did you know that Doug Collins was a #1 overall pick? If you ever get a chance to watch a replay of an old game he plays in, be sure to watch. That boy could SHOOT, as in one of the greats of all time... Blazers garnered a little lead in the quarter, pissed it away. PDX 68, PHI 66.

4. Blazers were shooting 42% as the Sixers tied it. Portland has been outscored in the 4th Quarter of the previous three games by a margin of 85-51, this is the test of Basic Competence. Mind blown, gonna free associate, hang with me: Armon Johnson is an NBA keeper, perhaps, but he is definitely not ready for prime time this season. Roy was playing Point Guard with the second unit for some bizarre reason — Nate is out of theories, I guess. We need more Slim Chin commercials. I have a new cat. The Blazers are gonna lose this game because they really, truly suck. As with the previous game against the Nets, only Philly's congenital incompetence kept this from being a blowout for the home team. "Clank clank clank, clank clank clank" — tune the rims and the Blazers could play "Jingle Bells." 

Blazers opened with 2-for-9 shooting in the 4th Q and scoring just 6 points in the first half of the 4th Quarter. Portland is not a good team. Portland is a bad team. Why are we watching this crap?

Did I mention that I have a new cat? My old cat, Ratbag, got old and died. She was awesome, best cat ever. Ratty was a "pastel calico" (basically grey but calico) and she used to hop in bed with me to watch South Park. That's the definition of a good cat, by the way... Anyway, I thought I was done with cats after her, I wanted to play for two dogs, but that was a nonstarter for my wife. We had a couple rodents come in under the house following Ratter's unfortunate demise, so AA warmed up to the idea of another feline predator unit in the household...

I'm really big on female cats, they're much nicer than tomcats. I also don't like kittens much, I wanted an adult cat. So I started watching the paper. There was an ad for a "free spayed female calico cat," which sounded just about right. "Oh, yeah, she comes when you call her name, very kittenish, very nice," the lady on the phone said. She had to move to a "no pets" apartment, cat was with her daughter. She was sad to see her go. It all sounded good ...

Well, the daughter works crazy hours at the hospital and wanted to drop the cat off at the shoe store in the middle of the afternoon. Okay, fine. Problem was, last Wednesday I was working alone due to an illness and it was really busy. The cat was in a carry box the size of a toolbox. I couldn't leave her in there for four hours, I figured. I fenced off the back room and let her loose there — I'd catch her when I got ready to go home....

Well, ha ha, joke's on me. The cat (who let me hold her without squalling and was clearly a sweetie) had a clipped ear... That's how they mark neutered feral cats — they catch them and neuter them and clip an ear to show that the cat has already been "done." So when kitty witty had an opportunity to sneak upstairs and hide, she did it like the true pro that she was...

I looked and looked and looked and looked and looked some more... No luck. The feral cat had gone feral and found a really sneaky place to shack up.

Screw this, I said: here's your food, here's your potty box, here's your water, I'm going home.

Well, for the better part of a week this cat hid out in the upstairs stockroom. We had two dogs up there hunting for her, as well as five people. Not a chance. This cat was a pro. She ate food, drank water, used her pottybox at night. During the day, she was essentially gone.

The end came on Monday night. Matt, who works at the store, is a self-proclaimed "redneck" — a nice, articulate, college graduated, liberal one, mind you — and he owns a live animal trap. A bowl of tuna fish in the cage and at 10:30 pm it was a very unhappy black calico in a wire mesh trap, yowling her guts out.

The cat is holed up in my book room now. She's a sweetheart, I already love her, she forgave the trap and wanted pets thirty seconds out last night. There's a little cubby hole underneath my desk that she hides in — I pretend not to know where she is, because if she knew that I knew, she'd have to find another hiding spot which might not be as predictable. As soon as I go in there to read microfilm (a story for another day), she's out from under the desk and on my lap. Good cat already, I'll forgive her her wimpiness due to an unfortunate upbringing.

I was gonna name her "Gert" in honor of Gert Boyle ("One Tough Mother"), but Michael from the store suggested that "Heidi" was way more appropriate after nearly a week on the lam, utterly unseen, in the upstairs stockroom of the shoe store. A funny pun, but not quite right either. I'll name her later — she's my cat is all that matters.

Oh, the game? Crap, I forgot to watch, I was too busy describing something actually interesting. Gee, what a tragic mistake...

The Blazers are absolutely a 4th Quarter effin' nightmare right now, bottom line. Absolute FAIL and I'm hanging this on Rich Cho just because that's where the buck stops in basketball operations. I admire Doug Collins for doing a very intense young man's job when he could be on the beach in Maui, sipping drinks. Bravo, sir, you have true love of the sport, and there is something to be said for that.

Blow this mother up, Rich, the dream is dead. Philadelphia 76ers 88, Portland Tea Sippers 79.

P.S. Is it just me, or does Dwight Jaynes need a "Mini-Me"?


Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?


Ya gotta click THIS-HERE LINK to see the swell graphs, that's the way these things work... Ready? Set??? GO!!!

Now here are a few observations about the Popcorn Machine material from me to you:

A. A sort of skitzy game. Portland owned the 3rd Quarter and then fell off the cliff in the 4th, powered by a 15-4 Sixers run.

B. Wesley Matthews was Blazer team-high with 26 points scored in about 37 minutes. Nate's decision to start him was good stuff; it would be nice if some other guys would step up. If this team wasn't sucking so hard, there would be a lot to get excited about in him...

C. LMA — 2 points scored after playing just about the entire 2nd half. You want to know one cause of the plague?

D. Dante Cunningham: minus-19 in 22 minutes. Yikes. Rudy and Nic were also catastrophic failures in plus/minus.

E. Brandon Roy: Two points scored in the second half. Don't confuse this guy with Kobe — EVER.

F. MB called Andre Miller going off on his old team. He didn't.



Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?


The Basketball Jones is a NBA blog and video/audio podcast, written and recorded five times a week by J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, Jason Doyle and Matt Osten. Assume that there will be a couple Not Suitable For Work words used in any given episode.


Photo Credits: Nate McMillan: Christian Peters, Getty Images. Dante Blocking Kobe: Rick Bowmer, Associated Press. Wesley Matthews: Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press. Greg Oden: Sam Forencich, NBAE via Getty Images. All images heavily tweaked in Photoshop by Tim Davenport.

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