It’s been a few days during which I did not blog, but rather pondered on the current state of the Philadelphia 76ers (okay, I also watched a good amount of football). Perhaps you did a little bit of both, too.
Now we’re here in the Windy City, aka Chicago, for a rematch against the average Chicago Bulls. If it feels like just yesterday that the Sixers lost to the Bulls at the Wachovia Center – getting outscored 33-11 in the third quarter – it’s because, basically, it was. It was Sunday. Round No. 1 of Bulls vs. Sixers: Final score 103-92. Round No. 2 – yes, back-to-back games – is tonight at 8:30 EST.
This afternoon at 3:30 we’ll have a Live Chat. If you have a few minutes, click here: Sixers Chat.
We talked last week about the tough stretch ahead. At that time, the impending opponents we discussed were the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, and Cleveland Cavaliers. I don’t remember the Bulls’ games being a hot topic of discussion. But here we are. And the truth is, with the way the Sixers are currently playing, no game is a should-win. Especially not a game on the Bulls home court. Especially not when that Bulls team just beat the Sixers at the Wachovia Center and once held a 19-point lead.
Nope. The truth, right now, is that the Sixers aren’t even average. They’re below average. At 7-10, they are three games (Bulls, Lakers, Pistons) from the quarter-way mark for the season. Realistically, the Sixers will be 7-13 or 8-12 at that time. That’s on pace for 28-32 wins. Hardly what we expected from this team way back in September (that seems like a long time ago).
But now the question changes from, “Do these kinks – these struggles – just need time?” to, “What changes must be made.”
Here is the first step: Change the lineup. It isn’t working. Find minutes for Royal Ivey, Kareem Rush, and Donyell Marshall. Find more minutes for Marreese Speights.
My proposed lineup: Andre Miller, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Elton Brand.
I don’t necessarily believe Samuel Dalembert is the only problem, I just think removing him from the lineup offers the Sixers more room for improvement. First, it gets Willie Green in the lineup. And he has brought energy – something the Sixers have lacked – through the first part of the season. Second, it moves Iguodala to small forward, a switch that might help spark his game. He has struggled, no question. Young proved last season he could play power forward. He isn’t out of position at power forward. Let Iguodala go back to small forward.
You might say: How will this help? The starting unit hasn’t even been the problem. True, it hasn’t. If you look back over the last 10 games, the Sixers have started strong. It has been the rotation off the bench that has given back leads. And my answer? It doesn’t matter. If you shift the lineup even slightly, it alters everyone’s role. It forces everyone to refocus and find their new niche within the rotation. Even the starters must adjust – even if it’s just one swapped starter – to the new chemistry. Starting games with Willie Green on the floor, Elton Brand as the only big man, and Andre Iguodala at small forward, shifts perspective across the board. Andre Miller is now working with Green in the backcourt, Green can allow Iguodala to slash more, etc. etc. Even the first guys off the bench – Lou Williams, Marreese Speights, Dalembert – will have to refocus. Speights might come in with Dalembert for Young and Brand. Lou might play more minutes with Miller.
I know many Sixers fans are calling for a more drastic change: A trade, the acquisition of a shooting guard, and a few other demands on this team, its coaches, and the front office.
I think there are a few moves to be made on the court before heading down that road.