Archive: November, 2008
MINNEAPOLIS--Kevin Ollie, after 11 seasons in the NBA, was at home in Connecticut with his wife, Stephanie, and their two children. He was thinking about retiring as a player, and his family was all for it.
"They were getting used to having me at home,'' said Ollie, who completed his third stint with the 76ers last season, leaving as an unrestricted free agent. ''They kind of liked it.''
But the more Ollie thought about it, the more he realized one more contract would probably be his last one. The Minnesota Timberwolves had been calling, but didn't have any guaranteed money to offer. The more the Wolves called, the more Ollie was interested.
Fact: Thaddeus Young, in just his second season, is the 76ers' No. 2 scoring option, after Elton Brand and before Andre Iguodala.
Fact: Young is, through the first 10 games of the season, the Sixers' leading scorer.
Given Young's rapid ascension, a reporter the other day asked coach Maurice Cheeks whether he could forsee, in perhaps a couple of seasons, Young as the No. 1 option.
Thinking out loud before heading for Minnesota and Wednesday night's game against the Timberwolves:
1) If you've been waiting for Elton Brand to blow the doors off the Wachovia Center, you're waiting for the wrong guy.
He is, however, as advertised, even though his numbers are slightly off his career 20 points/10 rebouns averages. Still, he's averaging 15.5 and 10.3 and is the post player, stabilizing force and leader the 76ers have needed. It's obviously going to take more than 10 games for Brand to fgure out the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, to work out spacing and shot-blocking issues with center Samuel Dalembert, and to do all of that without sacrificing his own strengths, including a very nice pick-and-pop mid-range jump shot.
Here's an early-season 76ers' truism: Hold down the turnovers, hold off the opponents.
This was true again in Saturday night's 110-85 victory over Oklahoma City. The Sixers kept their errors to 14, just 5 in the second half, although they could have lived with more if necessary because the Thunder seemed so overmatched, losing its seventh straight game, falling to 1-9 and gathering for a post-game players-only meeting.
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks like to keep the turnover total to 14 or less. That's where it has been in the three-game winning streak: 13 in a 106-96 victory in Toronto, 10 in Friday night's remarkable 94-92 comeback victory in Indianapolis and 14 against the Thunder.
Don't be superstitious about the number 13 when it comes to turnovers.
"I think 13 is a good number (for us),'' Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. ''Any time you can keep it lower than that, obviously that's pretty good, but if you have 15-18 turnovers you're going to be in trouble.''
The Sixers kept their errors to 13 as they won in Toronto Wednesday night, but going in to tonight's game in Indianapolis they still have 36 more than the opponents through 8 games. They also have 32 fewer steals. Taking better care of the ball should translate into at least better chances to win.
If Elton Brand is the Sixers' first offensive option, if Thaddeus Young is emerging as the second option . . .
Where does that leave Andre Iguodala? And can the guy who had been the first option find satisfaction there?
He could Wednesday night. He looked really comfortable for the first time this season in the 106-96 victory in Toronto, coming within a single digit of a triple-double: 18 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds. He shot just 5-for-13 from the floor, but he was aggressive going to the rim.
The 76ers, of whom more has been expected, are 2-4. Not good.
Opponents have accumulated 27 more steals than they have. Not good.
The Sixers have committed 35 more turnovers than their opponents. Not good.
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks has been saying since the preseason that he intends to settle on a substitution roation and stick to it, rather than trying to spot additional guys for a few minutes here and there.
He says he has done that, even though it has been difficult to tell at times.
That's what can happen in a 2-4 start that has including blowing a 23-point lead in Atlanta and having a dreadful performance in Miami.