Whenever I see Angelo Cataldi’s weekly column pop up at Philly Voice, I expect a short read, a bunch of recycled cliches cobbled together into an article featuring very little supportive evidence or meaningful analysis.
Today’s offering is titled “Angelo Cataldi: The Sixers’ weak spot may be head coach Brett Brown,” which is certainly fair and probably even true. This is the most talented Sixers team of my lifetime, and Brett Brown is under immense amounts of pressure to pull these guys together and get ’em rolling. General Manager Elton Brand did his job, and now it’s Brett’s turn. There’s nothing outrageous about Angelo’s premise, and Brett’s late-game management is one of the biggest question marks surrounding the team as we exit the All-Star break and hit the home stretch.
The problem with Angelo is that he ruins every decent topic with half-assed and/or incomplete execution, which makes him look lazy and ready for retirement.
Angelo takes issue with the end of the Boston game, writing the following:
Without belaboring every glitch in the final moments – every timeout Brown failed to call, every misplay Brown oversaw – let’s just say the game came down to Joel Embiid against Al Horford, 34 seconds left, the Celts ahead, 106-104. The NBA would acknowledge in its subsequent Two Minute Report that Embiid was hacked on the ensuing shot, and he was.
But why was the star center left to his own devices with the game on the line? Embiid later took all of the responsibility on himself, saying it would have been better to call a timeout, but his team had none. Actually, the Sixers had two. It was the responsibility of Brown to set up that play, not Embiid. As he so often does, the coach chose to leave it to his players.
Okay, first things first, I think Angelo is talking about two different things here. He begins that paragraph by talking about the Embiid/Horford no-call possession that took place with 34 seconds left. At that point, yes, the Sixers had two timeouts remaining.
But then he goes on to say, “Embiid later took all of the responsibility on himself, saying it would have been better to call a timeout, but his team had none,” which refers to the Sixers’ final possession, which happened on a different trip down the floor. It was the play where Tobias Harris missed the three-pointer and Embiid got the rebound, then scored the layup instead of kicking the ball back out.
“I’m an idiot. Should have kicked it out or taken it out to shoot it. I didn’t think about the situation and us not having a timeout. I thought we had one and then I looked and I was like, ‘I’m stupid.’ But like I said, that’s on me and I need to do a better job.”
So, yes, Embiid put that on himself, but Angelo is mixing up two different possessions here, or just bleeding them together. The first one was the Embiid vs. Horford no-call with 34 seconds remaining and the second was the put back after the Harris miss with 3.4 seconds on the clock. The timeouts were used at the 23 and 13 second mark, after the Marcus Smart dunk and Horford free throws.
More importantly, Brett Brown didn’t leave Embiid “to his own devices” with the game on the line, they went right back to the same 1v1 matchup that they got 90 seconds earlier, the Embiid/Horford post-up possession that resulted in Joel getting the bucket, and-1, to take a 103-102 lead. He got the better of Horford, earned the basket and the foul, and tried it again in the possession Angelo is talking about. So that sequence was not a poor sequence, it was the same exact thing that earned them a three-point play less than two minutes prior.
I think Angelo is trying to criticize Brown for the play design leading to the three-point heave, and he’s just smushing the final 30 seconds into one whole possession for some reason, which is confusing. I’m not even sure he realizes what he’s trying to say. The lack of detail is typical.
Point is, we SHOULD belabor every “glitch in the final moments.” That’s the whole point of doing the analysis.
- Embiid taking too many three pointers
- JJ Redick being hunted on defense
- Brett’s fourth quarter rotations
- Ben Simmons being limited in transition against the Celtics
- Boston defending Joel 1v1
- Horford using low leverage and trying to keep his arms down
That’s why we do it. We do it specifically to “belabor ever glitch” from the game everybody just watched. Multiple writers used full quotes and video clips and watched the game replay in their analysis. Here’s a radio host just regurgitating banal talking points, one week later, without backing anything up. The one quote he actually used is truncated and lacking context. He just says shit to say shit, which is fine on the radio, but this column, like most of his writing, is just a bunch of words barfed into Microsoft Word and then emailed to Voice editors. I’d be stunned if Angelo was even awake for the end of the game.
But the worst part of the article, and me burying the lede here, is when Angelo writes this:
Normally a measured man, Brown bristles at suggestions that he is still unproven as a strategist, and especially so when the opposing coach is Stevens. Brown snapped, “We’ve been with each other for a minute,” when asked about the failure of his new players to reverse the Boston curse. He actually called me personally last year when I questioned his coaching in the pivotal third game of the Celtics’ playoff loss last season.
I’m sure that was a fruitful conversation. I’m sure Angelo gave him a bunch of coaching tips and explained how Philly is a real blue collar, lunch-pail kind of town. I’m sure Brett Brown walked away feeling invigorated, having learned from a guy who grew up in Rhode Island as a Yankee fan and now claims to represent sports fans in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.