Brand X in the Snow

Just back not long ago from the Wachovia Center, and before we talk about the Sixers, a few words about local drivers, snow and the combination thereof.

I was nearly sideswiped going down Pattison Avenue by someone pulling out of the pay lot next to the Novacare Complex. Then there was a very dangerous person in an Infiniti who had his/her foot to the floor and was spinning wheels all over the Platt bridge. It wasn't until I reached the safety and sanity of Delaware County -- where everyone had good sense and monster SUVs -- that I was sure things would turn out all right.

Would that the Sixers had that kind of night. Things definitely did not turn out all right, particularly since coach Tony DiLeo had Samuel Dalembert on the floor for a final Boston possession in which -- guess what? -- the Celtics were going to shoot a three-pointer.

Here's the rule: If you are on the road (and particularly if you are already 40-9), and if you don't have your best player (Kevin Garnett), and if you play the Lakers in two days, and if it is snowing like hell outside and you want to get out of there, then it is written, if you are trailing by two and have the ball with six seconds, you ARE GOING TO SHOOT A THREE-POINTER and live with whatever happens.

That was the situation, but the Sixers did not have their fleetest group on the floor, and -- is this really possible? -- Ray Allen was wide open for the shot that beat them. Ray Allen. Wide open. Yes, you lose.

More interesting than the result, because the Sixers really did play well to stay with Boston, was the non-use of Elton Brand in the second half. DiLeo said Brand could have played, but that his shoulder got a little tight, which is a nice way of saying, "He could have played, but... nah."

When Brand was on the court in the first half, the Sixers were slow and very bad on defense. Without him, they were better. Eventually, this has to be admitted, even though Brand is a good guy and is trying as hard as he can. There is little hope he can be traded, so what will happen? I don't know, but it isn't going to be pretty.

It won't be as bad as trying to cross the Platt bridge with maniacs everywhere, or as bad as neglecting to cover Ray Allen on a game-winning shot, but it won't be good. General manager Ed Stefanski says he isn't shopping Brand, but I guess he would listen if a customer came to the counter.