Archive: March, 2009
Right now, that's probably the question all 76ers fans want answered: How bad is it?
With 2 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first quarter, Thaddeus Young jumped to contest a lefty hook by Josh Smith. Smith made the shot, Young's right foot landed on Smith's. He immediately clutched his ankle and, a couple of minutes later, put no pressure on the foot in being helped to the training room by Donyell Marshall and Theo Ratliff.
Late in the second quarter, Sixers officials distributed a release saying that x-rays were negative for a fracture, that Young would obviously not return (the obviously being my addition, not what they said), and that it was officially diagnosed as an ankle sprain.
Yesterday at 5:45 p.m., Andre Iguodala filmed a sketch for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." You know, Jimmy Fallon from SNL, who took over for Conan O'Brien, who is taking over for Jay Leno. Anyway, Iguodala was in this sketch, which aired late last night. In case you missed it, fear not, I have your link: Iguodala sketch.
And tonight, in about 20 minutes, the 76ers play the Atlanta Hawks, which (I believe) will be the most important game -- to date -- of this season. The Sixers have lost two in a row. They're 37-35 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference: 1 1/2 games in front of the Detroit Pistons at the seventh spot, 2 1/2 games in front of the Chicago Bulls in the eighth spot, and 1 game behind the Miami Heat -- who keep leaving open the door -- at the fifth spot. The fifth spot is where the Sixers need to be. Depending on how much is at stake the final games of the season (two against the Cavs, one against Boston), the Sixers final schedule could be brutal, or decent if they face a Cleveland team resting its main guys. Games like tonight's against the 43-31 Hawks, whom the Sixers are 1-1 against so far this season, are crucial. A game against the Hawks, at home, at this juncture of the season when the Sixers are caught in a crush of teams and the Hawks are, for the most part, set at the four spot, is a game the Sixers shouldn't lose.
Samuel Dalembert will start at center for the Sixers. It's unclear how effective he will be, but he will at least be out there. He strained his right calf in the first quarter of Sunday night's loss to the Detroit Pistons. Expect Theo Ratliff to play a lot of minutes tonight.
No matter how far these 76ers roam from .500 -- this latest time was four games away -- they always seem to return.
That's what happened tonight at The Palace of Auburn Hills: The Sixers were ahead 89-83 with 9:57 left in the fourth quarter, gave up an 18-8 run, and lost 101-97.
The Sixers are now 37-35 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Two games ago, before this loss to the Pistons and Friday night's to the Charlotte Bobcats, the Sixers were in fifth place, ahead of the Miami Heat. The Pistons, who used guard Allen Iverson tonight for the first time in 16 games, are now 36-37 and pulled out of the eighth spot into the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.
It's been a long road trip -- and I'm not the one playing. But here we are in Portland for the final game of this five-game swing. Game 5 in seven days. And the back end of a back-to-back. That is to say, in many ways, tonight's game is challenging. And, the Trailblazers are good. They're currently in sixth place in the Western Conference with a record of 44-26 -- but, like all the teams in that 2-8 crunch in the WC, they're two games out of second place.
After last night's win over the Sacramento Kings, the 76ers are now 35-33, and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They're 1-1/2 games out of both fifth place (currently held by the Miami Heat) and seventh place (currently held by the Detroit Pistons).
After last night's game, Sixers coach Tony DiLeo did say that he tried to rest his starters -- no one played more than 35 minutes. That's not to say tonight won't be a tough, tired game, but that is to say if DiLeo said the reason the Kings cut a 29-point lead to 11 was because he was resting his guys, then the Sixers shouldn't be as tired tonight as they were the night after the big win over the Lakers.
The Golden State Warriors looked good tonight. They looked quick, fast, athletic. They shot 9 for 119 from the three-point line. The thing is, they're 25-44 on the season. So it's hard to tell if they looked good, or if the Sixers just played poorly. I think it was more of the latter than the former. The Sixers lost, 119-111.
Although the Warriors record is sub par, they play well at Oracle Arena, and have a much better record when guard Monta Ellis plays.
The Sixers shot 38.0 percent from the field. That's bad. They couldn't finish around the rim. The Warriors could, they shot 56.5 percent.
Probably nobody thought that if the 76ers won one of their first two games on this Western swing that it would be the one against the Los Angeles Lakers. Or at least I didn't. But that's what just happened.
One night after stunning the Lakers with Andre Iguodala's buzzer-beating three-pointer, the Sixers appeared to fade against the Phoenix Suns, losing 126-116. After this game, everyone in the Sixers locker room agreed upon one thing: There just wasn't much defense played. Not by them. Not by the Suns. And that's just the way
As much as the excuse was offered that the Lakers win drained them, the Sixers wouldn't use it.
If you're reading this in the early hours of Wednesday morning, then you're like Andre Iguodala himself -- running on adrenaline. Since this game ended at 1 a.m., only a buzzer-beating edition made the papers. Here's the final edition, for those of you interested.
This is -- absolutely -- the best win of the season. After the game, Tony DiLeo said he felt like the team was starting to come together like they did before the all-star break. This was a gutty win, especially being down 14 in the fourth and watching, with 6.6 seconds remaining, Kobe Bryant do what Kobe Bryant does. Although (sweet) Lou did not make the final edition, his first-half play, and 14 first-half points, were essential in the Sixers bouncing back from what was a slow start.
Oh, and that's Jack Nicholson in the photo. 127: You asked for the Blackberry photos. There they are, in all their glory.
Sorry for the absence. I was gone the last week for a sports conference in Boston: didn't make the trip to Memphis and then Oklahoma City. So last night's game -- a win over the Toronto Raptors -- was the first in about a week.
No question, the Sixers played well. But the Raptors are bad. It's tough after the 15-point loss in Oklahoma City to take much from last night's win. If they can beat Chicago tomorrow night (some tickets are still available for this Spectrum game) and win Sunday afternoon against the Miami Heat, then I'll start thinking about the possibility of a strong finish to this season.
Okay, so after last night's win, we were crunching some numbers for these last 20 games (76ers are currently 31-31). The Sixers have more games left than the rest of the contingent in the vicinity of the lower end of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. If the Sixers can go .500 -- 10-10 -- the rest of the way, which is not a stretch considering they have a slew of games against some of the NBA's worst teams, Minnesota, Golden State, Sacramento, etc., it would be virtually impossible for them to miss the playoffs. The teams surrounding them, Milwaukee, Chicago, etc., must have records of, say, 13-5, 10-4 etc. to push the Sixers out of the playoffs. Thus the headline for this blog.