This post-loss blog post is becoming all too familiar. Tonight's loss was 88-72 at Quicken Arena in Cleveland against the Cavaliers and LeBron James. James was his James-like self with 28 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
Cavs are now 20-3, winners of 11 straight and undefeated at home (13-0). 76ers are 9-14 and losers of seven of their last nine. The Cavs were without Ilgauskas (sprained ankle), Snow, and Gibson. The Sixers were without Lou Williams (food poisoning).
You probably watched the game on Comcast, so you watched the same game I watched. We'll talk about that in a second. Like eating dessert first (although this is hardly as enjoyable), let's jump to the post-game quotes.
"It was more us than them," said Andre Iguodala. "I think we didn't have the mental toughness down the stretch. We just gave in. We aren't executing the way we should be on both ends of the court. We have to get it done. Games keep coming so we have to get it back tomorrow."
(Sixers play the Wizards tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center in what should be a "get it back" game.)
I'm happy with this quote from Iguodala. Enough about "finding consistency" and "improving communication." Let's get to the heart of the matter: Something is wrong with the Sixers. They aren't playing with as much teammwork and effort as they should be playing. That's something, anyway.
"We're right there at the beginning, but putting it together for 48 minutes is another story," said Willie Green. "They beat us to a couple of loose balls."
Yes, yes they did. Unacceptable in Philadelphia.
I asked Willie about the Sixers seeming inability to ride a hot hand. We've seen it over and over again this season: A certain player looks on track for a great game (usually Thad Young), that player (usually Thad Young) sits for a few minutes, then that player (usually Thad Young) checks back into the game and gets no more than a handful of shots down the stretch. Willie had 11 in the first quarter last night. He took only one shot in the third and a total of four in the second half. He finished with 19.
"I don't think it's that," Willie said (about Sixers not getting the ball to the hot player ... ). "I did a good job of getting us off to a good start and then other guys came in and got it done."
They did? I must have missed that part where a Sixer came in and drove this offense to bigger and better things.
(Before I forget, Lou Williams sat out the game with what was determined to be food poisoning. The Sixers are saying that Williams is a "game-time decision" for tomorrow night against the Wizards.)
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said, "I thought our offense was good, our defense was good. They just kept coming."
Cheeks is right, the Cavs did keep coming. He's also right that the Sixers played well. But he's only right through about the first quarter and a half. The point of separation, in my mind, was when Cavaliers guard Mo Williams dove for a loose ball while the Sixers all stood around and watched. The score was Cavs, 43-37 with 2 minutes, 59 seconds in the half. I think a play like this hurts the Sixers. First, Williams effort caused what probably would have been a 24-second violation anyway, but he made sure it was. Second, it's a mental edge. The Sixers have to see that and think to themselves, "Okay, well, the Cavaliers are not only talented, strong, and disciplined, but they're also willing to outhustle us." It wipes away any underdog, we're going to beat them with will thoughts the Sixers might have been having.
Cavaliers went on a 9-2 run to end the half. The Sixers did not get any closer than nine points for the rest of the game.
Here's what Mo said when asked, "What can you do to stop the bleeding?"
"Search and keep on pushing. There's a long way to go here. We're going to keep on pushing. We have a game tomorrow and we'll go from there."
This season is 23 games old. We said from the beginning that this -- around the 25-game mark -- was the time when changes would be made.