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A little bit of botched injury news to go along with a blown 22-point lead.
Last night was an early Christmas gift for Sixer fans.
There were four of us sitting at a table in the media room during halftime and one writer looked up and said, “they’ll probably lose by eight.” He was right, just off by three points. You just got the sense that a big letdown was coming, and it did.
Why, then? Why the letdown?
I saw a combination of turnovers, some missed shots, and unnecessary fouling. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan went 6-9 in the third quarter and Delon Wright was 4-4. The Sixers regressed to the norm after shooting 58% in the first half.
Brett Brown’s explanation:
“They jumped us, they just crawled into us. It’s not like they double-teamed Ben or used blitz pick and rolls. They got physical, and you know that’s what the NBA does and I burned two timeouts to try and get us stronger. There’s no magic bean, there’s no magic play. It’s body-body-ball stuff, if they come up and press you’re going to have to back them off and create space and possibly expose fouls, like Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan do. But when you look at it, they went a little smaller, they switched out on everything, they got up and in and they went on an offensive tear and made a bunch of threes. I don’t know the exact number, it felt like 10-of-11. It just felt like that, and I think that type of mentality to me sort of set the tone for the period.”
Toronto was 5-8 from three in the third period.
A word on the coach:
I’m not the type to call for someone to be fired in December. David Fizdale and Earl Watson were in toxic player-related situations, which is why they were removed, be it their fault or not. Jim Curtin always said, “players win games, coaches lose games, and referees ruin games,” and I think that describes Philadelphia appropriately. It’s easy, knee-jerk reaction to rip the coach when you blow huge second-half leads, but I’ve said before that Brett Brown doesn’t have Joel Embiid, he doesn’t have Markelle Fultz, and the remaining players are a 21-year-old rookie who can’t shoot and a bunch of role players.
We’re compiling a body of work that right now includes four throwaway years that I don’t even count as part of Brown’s tenure here. Are you judging him on what he did with Hollis Thompson and Jerami Grant? As far as I’m concerned, this is year number one, with injury and communication concerns that are out of his control and a roster with little depth. I need 40 games of healthy Markelle Fultz before I can even begin to make a legitimate judgment here. If Brown does get fired, it would either be at the end of the year or in the midst of a similar start next year.
So I think we compile positives and negatives from a larger body of work and then evaluate it at the end of the season. What, you didn’t expect them to win a playoff series, did you? Let’s not pull a 2016 Eagles here and think the squad is off to the Super Bowl after a surprise 3-0 start. I think most of us pegged them for .500 or right around that mark. They were going into the season with a core of young stars that had played 31 combined NBA games. They got off to a strong start and we stupidly adjusted our expectations based on a miniscule sample size.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you can absolutely rip Brett Brown for letting his team waste 10 seconds before fouling at the end of last night’s game. What exactly was Jerryd Bayless doing there? Stuff like that from a veteran is inexcusable, and we write it down, log it, and come back to that when evaluating the coach and that player somewhere down the road.
Also inexcusable were some of the bogus foul calls Toronto received at the end of the game. The Raptors went 32-35 from the free throw line while the Sixers went 10-14.
This one was particularly egregious: Continue Reading