Post-Magic, Pre-Bucks

Check out the video of Lou Williams talking about his performance in the video player at the right. If you want to follow Deep Sixer on Twitter, click here : Deep Sixer.

The 76ers are currently practicing here at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. They returned after last night's not-very-good season opener at the Orlando Magic. The game was eventually a 120-106 loss, but it was much worse than that. The Sixers scored 37 points in the fourth quarter, the Magic scored 20.

It's hard to think of exactly how to assess last night's performance. The Sixers didn't necessarily play any tough opponents in the preseason, so clearly last night's game was a challenge to begin with. It was an embarrassing night, but does it mean the Sixers are that bad? Tough to say. They look that bad. Hopefully for Sixers fans, seeing the Sixers against the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night at home will be an improvement. If it's not, then we'll have plenty about which to talk.

Here are a few thoughts from last night: 

1.) Lou Williams needs to play better defense. We know he can score. We know that on the offensive end he can be an impact player for this team. But, last night, Orlando's backup point guard Jason Williams was the reason the Magic bolted ahead in the second quarter. Williams is not staying in front of his guy. On one particular play, Williams was guarding the Magic's Williams on the left wing. There was sort of a soft brush screen just inside the wing involving Elton Brand (not an actual on-ball screen because the play was in transition). Orlando's Williams gave Lou a slight hesitation and went directly to the rim, laid the ball in for 2 points. As the ball bounced out of bounds, waiting to be in-bounded, Brand looked at Lou like "exactly what kind of defense was that?" If the Sixers are a defensive team first and foremost, they can't have their point guard allowing direct penetration to the rim.

2.) The "Big Three." That's what Sixers coach Eddie Jordan calls forward Thaddeus Young, swingman Andre Iguodala, and Brand. He's talked for much of the preseason about relying on these Big Three. It was only one game, but all three of the Big Three disappeared: Young was 3 for 9 with 8 points. Brand was 2 for 7 with 8 points. Iguodala was 3 for 11 with 8 points. If these are your go-to guys (and of course they are) they can't all be scoring 8 points. They're trying to run the offense, yes, but one of them has to assert himself at all times.

3.) Marreese Speights. The numbers are impressive: 26 points in 26 minutes off the bench. But let's not jump to the conclusion that these were 26 points in a regular NBA game. Many of these points came with the game already decided. And when it counted, Speights was struggling to defend Dwight Howard. More to the point, he had no chance at stopping Howard, who just backed him down in three dribbles and scored or dunked the ball. Speights can score, of course he can, but he's also giving up a heck of a lot of points on the other end. So let's not, just yet, start the "Start Speights" campaign.

I suppose what we learned last night is that the 76ers are, at this moment, nowhere near the caliber of team like those at the top of the Eastern Conference. What we'll learn tomorrow night against the Bucks is where they stack up against a run-of-the-mill NBA team.