My email began lighting up even before last night's game in Orlando ended. Many of the message-senders were familiar, either because I know them personally, have met them in the arena or because we've had a dialogue over time and I've come to respect their knowledge and opinions.
But the messages were all painfully similar. They--and I--are beginning to see cracks in the Sixers' plans. Everyone is obviously unhappy with the 2-4 start, but they're all even more unhappy--distressed--with the players' seeming inability to meld with new power forward Elton Brand.
To make a combination of a running game and a post player work, the big men need to rebound on the defensive glass and throw the ball ahead, with Brand trailing the play as a safety valve. If the fast break doesn't yield a solid opportunity, the ball needs to be in the hands of Andre Miller, with the perimeter guys cutting and moving. When the spacing is poor and the wing men remain somewhat stationary, Miller has little choice other than to shoot or drive to the rim. Hence, Miller's unwieldly 24 shots against the Magic.
And there is this, from TNT analyst Doug Collins, whose opinions and knowledge I respect above most, during Thursday night's telecast: “Elton Brand is not a great low post player. When his game really shot up in LA (with the Clippers) is where he picks and pops. He has that jump shot to about 15 feet and if you come at him he drives it. But I always felt that in the post if you play him with a bigger player he is not a great low post player…He brings a maturity of a guy who’s been around and understands (the game). He brings a lot more than statistics…He is a terrific running big man.”