December 21, 2014

Boston Celtics Provide a Reality Check for the 76ers

Kevin Garnett vs. the Philadelphia 76ersSitting only 3 rows behind the Celtic bench, I was extremely pumped for this game. I was hoping the Sixers could continue their winning ways and take another step toward becoming the team we all want them to be. Unfortunately it would not be. From the opening tap you couldn’t tell which team was scratching and fighting for a playoff spot and who was sitting comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics came in and set the tone immediately with a 15-0 run, and it is clear who’s the superior team.

Although the Sixers finally settled down (a little bit), they were vastly outmatched and suffered a 100-86 loss. This marked the first loss in four games for the Sixers, who also snapped their 9-game home winning streak.

Observations from the game

  • Attendance was great – 20,438. BUT there was an unhealthy number of green jerseys all throughout the crowd. At times (too many times) the Celtics supporters were much louder than the hometown fans.
  • Willie Green strained his back in the first quarter and did not return. Andre Miller seemed to have hurt his back as well but continued to play. Injuries would put a huge damper on the recent success for the Sixers.
  • Boston’s defense exposed the Sixers half-court offense. We couldn’t get a clean shot on the pin-downs all night, which is the staple of the Sixers offense. Closer look – the players’ screening was absolutely horrendous. They were barely getting a shoulder on the Celtic defenders.
  • Thaddeus Young most certainly needs offensive plays run for him. I would say “more” plays but right now he is at ZERO. 1. This will help develop his game now and for the future. 2. It would add another threat in the half-court. He can score in the post on smaller guys and take slower big guys off the dribble with relative ease. Mo, get it done!
  • In previous games we faced weak interior defense allowing Sammy to get off in the post. Not last night, KG and Kendrick Perkins locked down “Slammin’ Big Mouth Sammy D,” blocking his turnaround jumpers all night. Stat line after whining about playing time: 32 minutes, 1-9 fgs, 10 boards, 1 ast, 1 stl, 2 blks, 1 to, 5 fouls and a big TWO points.
  • Down 16 with 5:10 left in the game the stands quickly started to empty of the hometown fans leaving me to sit among Garnett, Allen and Pierce jerseys for the remainder of the game.
  • Honestly I don’t think one Sixers player really had a good game. Thad scored 11 points on 5-10 from the floor and 4 boards. But that’s about it.
  • The old school Philadelphia 76ers uniforms need to come back.
  • The biggest takeaway from the game: Sam Cassell should never, let me repeat NEVER, be looked at from that short a distance!

The team looked and played uneasy, jittery, and flat-out nervous to start both halves. I don’t know if that was because of the big, bad Celtics in the house. Maybe it was just dead legs after playing in Atlanta the previous afternoon.

I do have another theory to keep an eye out for down the stretch, especially against the tougher opponents. How do the Sixers respond now that there is a higher expectation for them to win and, at the least, compete with the top teams like Boston and Detroit? I am a firm believer in the saying “pressure busts pipes” particularly as it pertains to basketball.

That thought is EXACTLY why I have been against the tanking idea and pushed for the Sixers to win as much as possible and get in the playoffs. This team must develop a winning attitude, an expectation for winning and an understanding of how to handle the pressures of being a winning team.

Over the past month and a half the 76ers have showed a real aptitude for winning and firmly locked themselves in as a playoff team. That success has, if only a little bit, gained more support from the Philadelphia fans, as evidenced by the growing attendance numbers. Without a proven superstar like Allen Iverson to lean on, who will step up as the leader when the team is now expected to win on a nightly basis? This is a much different beast and mindset going into games. When everyone thinks you’re going to lose, a player has very little pressure and can play in a certain comfort zone. Right now I don’t know who that player will be on this team.

I am really hoping both of the Andre’s come to the forefront on that point.

Things definitely don’t get easier with Detroit and Chicago (must win) on the road, then San Antonio (will be at the game again) and Denver back home. Time for the Sixers to prove they can beat some good teams now.

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Comments

  1. Brian says:

    HA Sam is one ugly son of a B huh. How bout the applause he received for his departure after his 3rd foul? Hilarious.

  2. Dannie says:

    Actually the people I was sitting with were screaming for Doc Rivers to put him back in the game since he played terribly.

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