The Sixers strolled into San Antonio this weekend seemingly getting ready to play a team that was ripe for the taking. The Spurs were playing their third game in as many nights, were without future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, as coach Greg Popovich decided to give him a rest and the Sixers were coming off a solid effort in a sound victory over Boston on Friday.
But Tony Parker and company had enough legs, and bountiful smarts, to easily do away with the Sixers by 93-76. Let's just run down, individually, what is going on with the Sixers right now.
Andre Iguodala: He had to sit out Sunday's game after the pain in his left knee was too great. The official term for the injury is patella tendonitis. Iguodala has looked much slower in the past few games, perhaps due to the knee. The scary thing is last year he missed 15 games, mostly due to tendonitis in his OTHER knee. Click here for an injury update after today's practice.
Jrue Holiday: Coach Doug Collins has continuously told him he needs to score. Holiday did just that, going for 10 points in the first quarter against the Spurs, then didn't score again the rest of the game. Need more consistency from him.
Evan Turner: If you graded a player on body language, Turner would be carrying a failing grade. He is most happy with the ball in his hands, scoring, dealing and rebounding. His rebounding has been down of late and Collins says that is the best way for him to get the ball in his hands.
Spencer Hawes: He is starting to round into shape after missing most of the season with a strained Achilles', only he doesn't realize it. Sure his game is going to show rust - jump shots coming up short, balls getting bobbled - but Hawes can't let that play on his mind. His outbursts on the court over his own play truly hurt him. Collins can't spend time trying to calm his young center down during every game.
Elton Brand: He is showing signs of playing the way he was a year ago, when he led the team in scoring and rebounding. Sure his game has fallen off from his prime, maybe even from a year ago, but he is the only player on this team who will fight his way through troubles.
Nikola Vucevic: Not sure if the rookie backup center has hit the rookie wall so hard that he's been knocked unconscious or if he just can't adjust to Collins' demands right now. He looks absolutely lost out on the court right now. Collins has seemed to have lost all confidence in him.
Jodie Meeks: He is what he is - sometimes. On a team that is struggling to reach 85 in the scoring column right now it's kind of understanding why Collins is giving him a lot of minutes. Obviously, when this team is playing well, Meeks should be a 10-15 minute guy, looking to spread defenses by hitting open jumpers.
Thaddeus Young: Probably the Sixers' most consistent player this season, Young appears to be exhausted. Going against bigger players every night has taken its toll, and Collins said Friday that Young is down to below 210 pounds, almost 10 pounds lighter than where he would like him to be. Imagine being 210 and battling 250-pound monsters each night. He is simply worn down.
Lou Williams: If there is a player who can be defined by "As he goes, so go the Sixers," it's Williams. When he is on, the team offensively flows so much better. Problem here is other teams are now running out after Williams as soon as he crosses halfcourt, taking away his ability to get to the basket or get open for jump shots.
Sam Young: If Iguodala's injury proves to be something that keeps him out for some time, we could be seeing a lot of Young. His physicality really sticks out on a team that is sorely lacking it.
Right now the one thing that was so positive about this team early in the season - its youth - is hurting it. There is too much moping, too much complaining, too much "me-first" going on right now. They won 20 of their first 29 games by playing team basketball and hounding defense. All of the sudden, in many cases, it's become about the individuals.
And now their Atlantic Division lead, once seemingly secure, is gone. With Boston’s win at Charlotte Monday night, the teams are tied atop the division at 27-22. With 17 games remaining, their position remains very fragile. And if their recent play continues, so does a playoff spot.