Archive: January, 2009
We said in yesterday's chat and blog post that last night's game against the Houston Rockets was important. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why some games seem to carry more weight than others, why they feel like the season might shift one way or another depending upon its outcome. For instance, while I thought a win over New Orleans would have been great, I didn't think a loss was more than just that -- one loss, move on to the Houston game.
But going into the Houston Rockets game, it felt important because:
1.) A loss would have meant back-to-back losses, and three losses in four games. This might be nothing more than a hiccup for another team, but with the way the Sixers started this season, they can't afford even week-long stretches of returning to bad play. I think of them like they are a recovering mediocre team: They must guard against slips back to mediocrity, just like when recovering from anything else. How easy it would feel, looking up at the scoreboard and trailing by 15 (or, in last night's case, 14) and thinking to yourself, "Ah, yes, this feels familiar."
Sixers play the Houston Rockets tonight in the second game of this very tough two-game swing. We'll be chatting today at 3:30 p.m. If you have a few minutes, click here: Sixers Chat.
Since the 76ers left Philadelphia, it's been an interesting 48 hours. A few observations, things of note, and potential Live Chat topics:
1.) Elton Brand. If you're a Sixers fan, you've already heard what Chad Ford said yesterday on his ESPN chat. Basically, he said his NBA sources have told him that the Sixers have made Brand available. This isn't earth-shattering news because most NBA players are available -- for the right offer. But one would think if Ford's people are telling him the Sixers have made Brand available, then it seems the Sixers have specifically made Brand available (rather than so-and-so team going to the New Orleans Hornets and offering their entire starting lineup plus nine future first-round picks in exchange for Chris Paul). This leads to two questions: 1.) What could the Sixers actually get for Brand? Or must they be willing to take back an undesirable contract of their own. The truth is that Brand's stock has plummeted since his free-agent signing. And trading him right now would be a clear-cut admission that his signing was a mistake. 2.) Should the Sixers trade Brand? I think it's too early. I think it's too early in his return from the injury. I think -- at the very least -- he needs until the All-Star break to see how he may or may not respond. Everything I've heard leads me to believe that the Sixers will not make a move before the break, which is obviously also around the trade deadline (3 p.m. EST, Feb. 19).
Here are a few photos I promised. Fear not basketball junkies, there are a few hoops ones sprinkled into the mix. If you're looking for strictly X's and O's about tonight's game against the New Orleans Hornets, check out my blog from early this afternoon. Should be right before this slideshow.
I call this photo essay "New Orleans" ... and I remind everyone that I claim no photography skills.
It seems as if Saturday is, finally, the day for Elton Brand's return. I only say "finally" because it seems Brand has been a game-time decision for a while now. Okay, actually, he has been a game-time decision for a while: For the last three games.
The 76ers have kept him sidelined an extra week or thereabouts to allow that dislocated right shoulder to receive the "optimal" recovery time, which is around 6 weeks.
Today, the Sixers held an "optional" practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Brand participated. Tomorrow, the Sixers will return to regular practice, where Brand is expected to scrimmage full-court, 5-on-5 for the first time since his injury on Dec. 17 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
As Elton Brand has alluded to for the past few days, he will miss at least one more game -- today's against the Dallas Mavericks. With Brand sidelined again, he will receive the added rest provided by the 76ers four-day layoff: They don't play again until Saturday against the New York Knicks.
Since last week's game against the San Antonio Spurs, Brand has mentioned that sitting through today's game would offer him the "optimal" recovery time for a dislocated right shoulder: six weeks. Brand dislocated the shoulder on Dec. 17, a win against the Milwaukee Bucks. Today, Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said that resting Brand today is best for the long-term:
"Our medical staff thinks the longer we can give him, the better it is for the long-term," DiLeo said.
Elton Brand will remain on the sidelines for tonight's game against the New York Knicks. We talked last night (before the game against the San Antonio Spurs) about Brand's injury and when he might return to the lineup. While the Sixers have flourished (win streak!), we have also discussed when Brand might return and what that return might mean.
I think, at this point, we have to look to next Saturday's home game against these same New York Knicks as Brand's return to the lineup. It makes no sense right now to bring Brand back for one game against the Dallas Mavericks when they could hold him out until the following Saturday. Last night, Brand said the "optimal" recovery time for his dislocated right shoulder is six weeks. Today, we're at about 4 1/2 weeks (a little bit more I suppose .... he injured the shoulder on Dec. 17). If Brand can continue to rehab until next Saturday, he'll have reached the maximum recovery time for the injury he suffered.
Considering the Sixers are doing fine while he's recovering, this is the game plan for which I vote.
Elton Brand will still be in street clothes for tonight's game against the San Antonio Spurs.
When will he return? Goodness, I thought I had the answer to that question ... but then a few minutes later, it seemed there was no answer.
First, Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said that Brand would have played tonight if it wasn't the front end of a back-to-back (Sixers play the New York Knicks tomorrow night in NYC). DiLeo also said that unless Brand's right shoulder doesn't feel good tomorrow night, he'll be planning.
Not only have the 76ers not lost since the last time we held a Live Chat, they haven't lost since Jan. 3. That's 12 days. In Sixer-land that's a heck of a long time.
We hope it doesn't break the momentum, but we're having a Live Chat today at 3:30 p.m. If you can join, click here: Sixers Chat.
Given the last two games: sizable wins over the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trailblazers, I'd say there is reason for optimism. I would not say the Sixers have turned a corner (so to speak), but they are absolutely playing their best basketball of the season. Here are the topics, I believe, worth discussing: