The Sixers have played two quality opponents, the Toronto Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks, and one weaker opponent, the New York Knicks.
On Monday night, the Sixers will play the Sacramento Kings (0-3), who managed to lose by 26 points to the Miami Heat, of note because the Heat won only 15 games last season and lost to the Knicks (120-115) in their season opener.
Translation=The Kings are not very good.
The Kings *second* leading scorer is John Salmons, formerly of the Sixers. Salmons played four seasons in
Philadelphia before signing a multi-year deal (worth reportedly $25.5 million) with the Kings in the summer of 2006. Through three games, Salmons is averaging 16.7 points per game.
The Kings second-leading scorer is
Mt. Laurel (N.J.) native Jason Thompson (14.0 ppg). Thompson was the Kings’ first-round draft pick (12th overall) in the 2008 NBA Draft.
The Kings starting line-up reads like a list of second-round draft picks: Salmons, Kevin Martin, Spencer Hawes, Beno Udrih, and Mikki Moore.
Let’s look at the Sixers, though. The good and the bad.
1.) Sam Dalembert is not playing well and still averaging 9.7 points and 12.0 rebounds a game. Dalembert is shooting 44.4 percent (12-27), a relatively low percentage for the point-blank shots he takes. If Dalembert can convert two more shots a game – and even he has said this shouldn’t be difficult – that bumps his numbers to 13-15 points per game. The Sixers could use those couple of baskets. But, more importantly in my mind, it would boost the rest of the Sixers’ confidence in getting the ball to Dalembert. On one occasion last night in
Atlanta , Elton Brand caught the ball on the low block and was immediately double-teamed. Brand wheeled to the baseline and shoveled a pass to Dalembert, who was cutting to the hoop. Brand put some mustard on the pass, and it might have been a touch low. Dalembert mishandled the pass and the ball went out of bounds. Brand’s reaction, albeit briefly, was frustration.
2.) Thaddeus Young looks like a superstar. Young is shooting 58.1 percent from the floor and 55.6 percent from three. He is averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 36 minutes a game. Young has been the Sixers’ fourth option, really, behind Brand, point guard Andre Miller, and swingman Andre Iguodala. On Saturday night, Young looked poised to score 35-40 points, but then sat for a good amount of the second quarter. And, inexplicably, wasn’t part of the offense for much of the last three quarters.
3.) The Sixers are outrebounding opponents by an average of 16.4 rebounds a game (63.7 to 47.3). Brand and Dalembert are both averaging double-digit boards. I think you’ll rarely find that a poor rebounding team can practice its way into becoming a great rebounding team. The Sixers strength on the boards should translate to victories once this team settles into the season.
4.) That 23 point lead. The Sixers were dominating
Atlanta . They led 44-21 over a team that last postseason took the Boston Celtics to seven games. The version of the Sixers that built that lead -- through offensive execution, defense and rebounding – exists.
1.) Turnovers. The Sixers had 18 last night and 56 for the season. That’s 26 more than their opponents. A lot of these turnovers appear to come from not yet being able to read each other. (Example: Twice this season Brand has attempted alley-oops to Dalembert that have sailed out of bounds. These two don’t have consistent timing yet. But there have been moments – a completed alley-oop on Saturday night – that suggest this timing is developing.) Brand (11) has the most turnovers. Iguodala (10) is second. Both of these guys are called upon to create in the last seconds of the shot clock.
2.) Half-court execution. For much of the Sixers’ two legitimate games (Raptors, Hawks), they seemed disjointed. A typical fourth-quarter possession last night included aimlessly dribbling off a pick, passing the ball down to the corner, dribbling back to the wing, dumping the ball to Andre Miller or Iguodala with eight or nine seconds on the shot clock, then taking a couple of dribbles and shooting an off-balance 15-footer. When the offense is working, Brand is on the low block, or setting a screen on the wing and rolling to an open area. There have been periods – even entire quarters – where the offense looks potent. But those stretches haven’t lasted. And when it’s bad, folks, it’s bad. It was bad in the fourth quarter against the Hawks.
3.) Andre Miller shooting 46 shots. For reference, Brand has taken 47. Miller has taken 15 more shots than Young, nine more than Iguodala. Last night, Miller 5 for 18. Miller is amazing going to the rim and in transition. He slips through gaps in the lane that don’t even appear to exist. But if the Sixers are relying on his 18-foot jumper to win ball games, it is going to be a long season.
Tomorrow, we’ll have a Live Chat at 3 p.m. to discuss what happened against the Hawks and what might happen against the Kings. I’ll post the link in the morning.
Until tomorrow …