Can't imagine too many people will be watching Sixers-Pistons tonight, but perhaps there's a few ...
Just landed in Detroit, which is something Allen Iverson did not do last night. The 76ers point guard did not make the trip for tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons. Last night after the loss to the Toronto Raptors, Iverson was limping from the training room to his locker – he was grimacing and when he sat down he was rubbing his left knee. Power forward Elton Brand, who did not play against the Raptors due to a stomach virus, made the trip and is expected to play tonight. So those are the nuts and bolts in advance of tonight’s game – 7:30 tip off – against the Pistons.
The Sixers are 10-25.
Last night against Toronto, they held a 13-point lead. I can’t imagine many folks thought that lead would hold. It didn’t, of course.
There’s very little to say right now about this team that isn’t negative or questioning, which makes it hard to continually type things that seem redundant. It’s (sort of) funny because last season we’d be talking about last night's final play when they Sixers inbounded with 8.4 seconds remaining. The focus would have been on what appeared open had Iverson not stumbled dribbling off the on-ball pick (Andre Iguodala would have been open). We might have also talked about why the Sixers didn’t just inbounds to Iverson or Williams and clear everyone out. Seems like a low-risk, high-reward option. Right now, there’s little motivation to assess that end-of-game play because it’s not the real issue.
The real issue is why is this team 10-25?
Sixers General Manager Ed Stefanski spoke before last night’s game (you can watch the video in the Deep Sixer player below on the right). If anyone should have an answer for why a talented, playoff team is now the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, it should be Stefanski.
He revealed something when he wouldn't guarantee Eddie Jordan's job for the remainder of the season. And he made it clear he is unhappy and frustrated. But Stefanski, too, was answer-less. He spent a decent amount of the 11-minute interview talking about team defense, pick-and-roll defense, and improving rotations. That felt a little bit like worrying about making a connection while your plan is spiraling out of control: Of course it would be an important detail if not for the bigger problem. It's for that very same reason that we’re not blogging right now about the end-of-game pick and roll between Iverson and Iguodala: Who really cares, given the over-arching issue?
So why is Stefanski talking about the intricacies of defensive rotations right now? I’m not exactly sure. I would bet that talking about defensive rotations feels much safer than talking about how certain people's jobs are on the line. It must feel safe, like an island -- albeit a shrinking one.
If someone had a crystal ball and said Jordan would remain this team’s coach for the entire season – regardless, no matter what – then we’d have to eventually get back to talking about the (somewhat) important plays and what happened and what needs to improve. Granted, there’d be only about a dozen or so folks interested in such meaningless plays during such a disappointing season, but there would be little point to continue calling for change when change wasn’t occurring.
But that’s not the case. And, right now, it isn’t about one play or a defensive rotation or the weak-side defense or the strong-side defense, or even about the offense. It’s about why a playoff team with a roster of some of the NBA’s best athletes (I said athletes), a team maxed out on the salary cap, is keeping company with the NBA’s worst.