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I'm waiting for my flight to Portland, where tomorrow night the 76ers play the Trail Blazers and last season's starting point guard, Andre Miller. A lot has changed this season, not just Miller's departure, but seeing him again might get you thinking about what exactly has happened to this team.
The e-mails I get from Sixers fans include a bunch of different reasoning. Some believe when the Sixers lost Miller, they lost the last player on their roster who could provide veteran on-court leadership and that this season's team has no veteran leadership (and perhaps no leadership at all). Right now, this appears very true. Not necessarily that Miller would have this team somewhere they're not, but that this team doesn't seem to have someone that stops in-game slides. Look at last night, the Sixers are ahead 19-15. Just under 4 minutes later, the Jazz have scored 17 points and are ahead 13 ... game over. During this run, pretty much everyone out on the court just sort of let the run happen, waited for it to be over (it ended on a three-pointer by Jrue Holiday). You would think the leadership would come from either of two places: Andre Iguodala or Elton Brand.
Perhaps earlier in the season it came a little from Lou Williams, but he's been out for a chunk of time and is just working his way back into form. Brand is now coming off the bench, so he seems worried about what he has to do, and not really taking on the role of getting the entire team in order. Iguodala appears a little disheartened, like it's taking most of his energy just to get through a game, let alone provide any leadership. Both these guys seem worried about their own games and for Iguodala, that includes passing and getting his team involved, but there doesn't seem to be a huge portion of energy going towards keeping this team together during games.
In conclusion: The Sixers look lost. So it's easy to fondly remember Miller and remember how smoothly last season's second half seemed (although at the time it didn't seem smooth at all).
Other e-mailers are infuriated with Sixers coach Eddie Jordan. They believe he was the wrong hire for this job. Right now, there's not a lot of information saying otherwise. So either one of two things has happened. 1.) It is as the e-mailers say, Eddie Jordan is wrong for this job. After last night's game, Iguodala said the team "doesn't have a rhythm on offense." OK, so I'm assuming I speak for most Sixers fans when I say I'm tired of hearing about "rhythm" when it comes to poor offensive performance. At what point is it not rhythm, but rather just "this isn't working"? I asked Iguodala that question and he said his job is to go out there and try to make it work, that's all he said: His job is to try to make it work. Feel free to infer whatever you'd like from that. Here's the other of two things that might have happened. 2.) Jordan has a free pass this season to implement his stuff while Stefanski tries to make some player personnel moves. (I get this e-mail a lot.) If this is the case -- and I don't believe it is -- the Sixers are very convincing in this role. After every game they look frustrated and, more and more, despondent.
Right now, they need to go on a 14-game winning streak to get back to .500. Right now, this season is in the middle of the second quarter and the Sixers are down about 17 points. Even if they claw their way back, you must wonder how much energy they'll have left once they do so.
Okay, flight is boarding to Portland.