Archive: February, 2009
I found this interesting after talking to Thaddeus Young before tonight's game against the Miami Heat. We all remember how hot Young was at the start of this season -- he even said tonight that he "came out on fire at the beginning of the season." No argument here. Through five games, Young was shooting 56.0 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from the three-point line. He was averaging 16.0 points.
We all know by now that Elton Brand is done for the season. From the first time Brand spoke after the dislocated right shoulder -- which occured on Dec. 17 -- he made it clear that if the rehab didn't go smoothly, and he was still in pain, surgery would be the next step.
So that's where the 76ers are right now: Brand will be having surgery, as early as Monday. And he'll be done for the season. There was a few twists and turns that led from Brand scoring 12 points in that win over the Houston Rockets last week, and now this. First he went scoreless and didn't play in the second half on Tuesday night. Before that game, he came onto the court with a brace. At halftime, he told the training staff that his shoulder had stiffened up, but that he could go if necessary.
On Wednesday, Brand wasn't at practice. The Sixers said he received an MRI, but the MRI showed the injury was healing as scheduled. The Sixers said Brand was day-to-day but "expected to play." So, what gives? Then we learn that the MRI was viewed only by a technician, Brand had yet to see his doc, and his agent, David Falk, was flying into town.
76ers power forward Elton Brand did not practice today, nor was he available at practice. Instead he was receiving an MRI to check the state of his injured right shoulder. The MRI test revealed that Brand's injury is still healing as expected. According to the Sixers, the injury is not fully healed, but in the process of healing. Tomorrow, Brand is seeing Dr. Craig Morgan in Delaware to evaluate the shoulder, which was dislocated on Dec. 17. The Sixers said Brand is "day-to-day" but is expected to play tomorrow night against the Indiana Pacers.
Brand played only 8 minutes, 40 seconds in last night's 100-99 loss to the Boston Celtics. He did not score and looked to be more out of rhythm than usual -- it was his sixth game since returning against the New York Knicks. This injury with Brand is tough to decode because, it goes without saying, the Sixers have played better without him. So, naturally, you wonder if the Sixers (and Brand) are being especially cautious because they're doing fine without him.
Last night, Sixers coach Tony DiLeo knew that Brand was hurting, that his shoulder had stiffened up, but that Brand was willing to play if the Sixers needed him. Brand did not play. Today at practice, DiLeo said that if Brand had not notified the training staff that his shoulder was hurting, DiLeo absolutely would have played him in the second half. DiLeo said, "It's difficult not knowing if he's 100 percent or not." I imagine it is. I imagine it's tough for a coach. You already have a thousand different things racing through your brain during a game, let alone trying to weigh the pros and cons of playing Brand vs. not playing Brand vs. playing a slightly injured Brand vs ....
Either you watched it on Comcast, witnessed it in person, or caught the replay on the highlights. No matter when or how you saw the last play of tonight's game against the Boston Celtics, you're still probably wondering: Why was Ray Allen open? Why, of all players, would the Sixers leave Allen -- known from coast-to-coast for his smooth outside jumper?
We'll answer that in a second. But the hard reality is the Sixers did leave him, and it cost them a victory: The Boston Celtics won 100-99 when Allen made a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. Six seconds earlier, Andre Iguodala made a fadeaway jumper that looked to be the game-winner.
Why was Allen open? Here's the sequence of events:
I was not at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night. I did not witness what was -- by all accounts -- a remarkable display of futility, ineptitude, or any other appropriate word describing the drought the 76ers endured/produced against the New Jersey Nets. I imagine we could ponder for paragraphs on what produced that stretch (heck, it's not like Friday night's win over the Washington Wizards lit the world on fire), but since I didn't watch it with my own eyes, I'll let those that did offer any lingering thoughts.
Let's look at how Saturday night impacts Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics.
I think with the way the Sixers had been playing for most of January, it was acceptable to point to the game against the Boston Celtics as a test of the Sixers' progress. They would have been above .500 (we're speaking as if they won that game against the Nets), coming off a seven-game win streak, with wins in 11 of 13 games. I think it would have been fair to look at the game against the Celtics as a legitimate litmus test. We watched them lose badly, in both their early-season games at Boston. But this would have been a middle-of-the-season game, with both the Sixers and Celtics playing what you would consider to be solid basketball. The Celtics had endured their rough patch after the sky-high winning streak. The Sixers would have endured that poor start and seemed to prove themselves as a much better team since.