Starting this blog post in the third quarter of the 76ers vs. Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.
It was not a pretty second quarter. In the quarter, the Sixers scored 13 points and had 14 turnovers. If this had been a regular-season game, those 14 turnovers would have been a franchise record for most turnovers in a quarter. Besides the turnovers, the Sixers just mostly looked lost. On offense and defense. The Knicks (who are not really very good) scored 28 points and led at halftime, 43-35, after trailing 22-15 after the first quarter.
Tonight, the Sixers just weren't getting great shots out of their offense. There doesn't appear to be as much movement as is necessary. Sixers were looking a little frustrated. Like when power forward Elton Brand, upon getting a rebound, delivered a pretty hard elbow to the side of Jared Jeffries' head. Jeffries was not pleased. He walked away for a second then confronted Brand. You could tell, right when Brand got the rebound, that he was going to be swinging some elbows. After the game, Brand said he was "clearing space." Yes he was.
I think the best thing we can say about this game is that it eventually ended. And that the Sixers did win, 93-85, although I'm still unsure if beating the Knicks counts as a victory. Sixers are 4-0 halfway through the pre-season.
Scoring-wise, Brand looked the best he has all pre-season. Before the game, coach Eddie Jordan spoke about Brand in his press conference and mentioned that he felt Brand was putting pressure on himself. And that the team needed Brand to incorporate himself into the flow of the offense. With his words, Jordan seemed to be saying that within the offense, Brand needed to eventually do less for his own game and more to help his teammates. (Although, realistically, I'm sure Jordan would say that about everybody on the team, considering the offense.) Brand didn't have any assists tonight, but he looked as effective scoring as he has all season.
Thaddeus Young finally broke out tonight -- 26 points. He scored those 26 like he did last year: without anyone noticing.
Sixers had 28 turnovers.
Just came up from the post-game conference with Jordan, as well as the locker room with Iguodala and Brand. Jordan said that after the first quarter, the Sixers went into their regular NBA sets and out of the Princeton Offense. He said they were missing some reads and that it would be better for the matchups to go with some regular NBA sets. All three insinuated that the team is more comfortable with these NBA sets. Iguodala, in the locker room after, seemed frustrated. Iguodala did say the team needs to stay committed to Jordan's offensive principles. Some observations:
1.) Jrue Holiday didn't play. After the game, it seemed like some of the Sixers were taking a few seconds as they were getting ready to keep up Holiday's spirits. Lou Williams stopped for a second to talk to him.
2.) The second unit struggled. Individually they struggled and collectively -- in the second quarter when they were in as a unit -- they struggled. Willie Green (0 for 3, 2 turnovers) had a rough game, but he did miss practice yesterday with the flu.
3.) The Knicks shot 41 three-pointers. 41. They made 7. But they shot 41.
4.) The Sixers were 3 for 9 from three, with Kapono going 1 for 1. Dionte Christmas didn't shoot a three, but he played 5 minutes in the third quarter. He finished with 1 rebound and went 1 for 2 from the free throw line. It's a good sign that he even got some minutes, although so did Brandon Bowman. Holiday was the only DNP-Coach's Decision.
5.) Here's my two cents on the Princeton Offense. It seems like the over-arching principle of the Princeton is to immediately go backdoor if you're denied. Especially with an NBA clock of only 24 seconds, it would seem essential that if your defender denies you a pass, you get the heck out of there, cut, and fill the other side. Tonight, a few times, the Sixers were fake cutting backdoor, stuttering with their defenders, and trying to get open to get the ball. Each time, it killed like 7 seconds off the clock and absolutely destroyed any sort of rhythm and flow within the offense. Of course, sometimes, the play is a dribble handoff, so your goal is to come get the ball. It just felt like a few times tonight, nobody was making the backdoor cuts, flocking instead to the basketball. Jordan pointed out afterwards that a couple of the Knicks defenders had run the Princeton under him, so they probably know the offense better at this stage than some of the Sixers.
All right, time to log off at MSG. The Sixers will practice tomorrow at PCOM.