This is an entirely different post than the one necessary after last night's 45-point disaster at the Chicago Bulls. Last night, you couldn't really even say much because the 51-point deficit said a whole lot, more than anything anyone could add. But tonight, there's one thing in particular we'll attempt to tackle after the 76ers' 84-80 loss to the Boston Celtics, a game in which they led 74-70 with 4 minutes, 49 seconds remaining. By no means are we pointing this out as some kind of massive lead the Sixers allowed to evaporate, but rather as an indication that the Sixers were very much in position to win this game.
They just didn't. And, as is usual against good teams, the problem came when the possessions became more and more important in the game's final minutes. Really, the final three possessions. Now, since it was crunch time on deadline as well as crunch time in the game, and because Boston's play-by-play omits missed shots, we're going to draw the sequences from memory. It seems the only successful possession came with 1:19 left in the game when Iguodala hit Elton Brand for a little mid-range jumper that cut the Celtics' lead to 82-80. Those were the Sixers' final points of the game. What followed was a botched possession with about 50 seconds left, a turnover I believe, and then the final offensive possession that was designed around Andre Iguodala. Jrue Holiday dribbled the ball at the top of the key and waited for Iguodala to get decent position around the right elbow. Holiday got Iguodala the ball, led him towards the hoop, and Iguodala missed some sort of attempt at the rim. It's listed as a block by Kevin Garnett. Iguodala seemed to think he was fouled. After the game, Iguodala wouldn't really dive into the no-call, saying it was pointless to worry about whether or not he was fouled because the game was over. A few seconds later, Ray Allen was fouled and made two free throws for the final margin.
So, onto the one particular item we wanted to discuss: this repeated final possession scenario. We'll try to wrap some logic around what's happening with the Sixers. Or rather, use some logic to call into question the repeated calls at the end of games.
OK, here goes.
Most Sixers' fans would agree that more times than not, the Sixers go to Iguodala at the end of games. There are exceptions, but it's safe to say that about 8 times out of 10 the ball goes to Iguodala if there's a set play drawn up in the preceding timeout. It just doesn't make sense. Consider this: After tonight's game, Collins was talking about how his team just doesn't have that type of guy that can give you 25 points every night. We've heard that before. We all agree with that. Collins said this team is best when it gets seven guys scoring in double figures. Maybe seven guys is a stretch, but the point is taken: The Sixers are best when spreading the ball around and everyone is involved and contributing.
Then why, at the end of games, is it always given to the same player?
If this team doesn't have a guy capable of scoring 25 points a night, then it also doesn't have a guy that deserves the ball every time in end-of-game possessions. Iguodala should certainly get the ball sometimes in these situations. Against the Chicago Bulls, he was in a rhythm. If that game hadn't be a disaster, it would have made sense to give Iguodala the ball in an important possession. But there's this sense that Iguodala should get the ball by default, and it continually haunts this team at the end of games. It defies logic, really, and it's reached a point where it should frustrate fans of this team. (Or rather it's well past that point?)
This topic was somewhat broached after tonight's game. First, Collins said that sometimes what happens is that Iguodala gets put in a bad position at the end of a possession or at the end of a shot clock because of a breakdown somewhere else. And that's certainly the case on some occasions. And Iguodala himself said that teams' defensive schemes are built to keep him out of the paint. And that's also true. He's doing the best he can with what he's being given, absolutely. The more important question is why keep going back to a guy -- we're talking dozens and dozens of times -- who is being forced into a low-percentage shot and you can gather from watching the previous 47 minutes of the game that he's probably going to be forced into that shot?
It feels like the Sixers are actually sacrificing games in the name of proving that Iguodala deserves the ball on the final possession.
Did I just write 800 words on this topic? I really should get a life.
For anyone stuck at work tomorrow, we'll be having a Live Chat at 1 p.m. Also, the entirety of Iguodala's post-game availability should be embedded in the post below.
Happy Holidays to everyone!
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