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Elton Brand showing us some old school

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 18 - 2009

All the gossip about Brand losing his starting spot must have inspired him. Elton was breaking it down old school against the Charlotte Bobcats. He finished with 19 points, 11 boards, 2 assist and 3 steals in just under 42 minutes.

From the opening tip Brand seemed to have some pep in his step. Getting to lose balls, fighting for rebounds, stealing passes and taking them coast to coast for dunk finishes. He looked like Elton Brand circa 2006.

It’s good timing for Brand, who has been criticized even more than usual lately.

The real question is whether or not this is or isn’t a one time deal. Can Brand play this way on a consistent basis or just against teams like the Bobcats?

Now you may be saying to yourself “c’mon he did it against the Bobcats they got what 3 wins?” And it’s true they are only now 3-8 on the year. However, it’s not because they can’t stop opponents from scoring. Coming into Wednesday’s game Charlotte was 3rd in the NBA in points-per-game allowed. That means they’re playing Larry Brown Basketball, all defense and virtually zero offense.

So the “he did it against a bad team” excuse is out the window.

Could things have just clicked? Perhaps the thought of losing his starting spot was exactly the motivation he needed to get going. Or perhaps he was just trying to hard, coming back from injury takes time to return to form so he was pressing. For whatever reason, the Sixers hope he’s back, they could really use him.

The one big worry is the play of Thaddeus Young. He struggled going 2-10 from the field while still playing nearly 30 minutes. If Brand has a good game does that always mean Young won’t? Are their games so different that they can’t thrive together? Even with Brand playing like this you can’t take it if it means the loss of Young’s usual production. Something to keep an eye on, though it could just be Young’s struggles.

Plenty of questions left to answer, we’ll have to wait until Friday though to answer them. Stay tuned.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Sixers/Bobcats Preview

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 18 - 2009

The Sixers will meet Larry Brown and the Charlotte Bobcats tonight at the Wachovia Center. Here’s some interesting notes on tonight’s match up:

76ers/Bobcats All-time

* 9-9 All-time versus Charlotte

* Both teams have 7-2 home records against each other

* Sixers were 1-3 against Charlotte last season, scoring below 100 points in each game

Sixers Notes

* The Sixers have not posted a winning record in November since the 2002-03 season

* Over the past 5 games the Sixers are shooting only 28.1% from 3-pt range

* Sixers have lost 4 of their last 5 games

Sixers Player Notes

* Despite playing the majority of his minutes in the 1st half, Elton Brand leads the team in +/-

* Andre Iguodala leads the team in Scoring, Assists and Steals

* Iguodala also has scored 20+ points 4 times this season, didn’t score 20+ in any game until 18 games into last season

* Louis Williams has more steals than turnovers this season

Bobcat Notes

* Acquired Steven Jackson on November 16th

* Tonight will be the 4th of 24 games against teams formerly coached by Larry Brown

* The Bobcats have the 3rd lowest points against per game in the NBA

Bobcat Player Notes

* Boris Diaw has scored in double-figures in six of his last seven games

* Gerald Wallace leads the NBA in minutes played

* Gerald Wallace became only the 2nd Bobcat in franchise history to have a 20-20 game

* Flip Murray tied a career-high with 31 points on Monday against Orlando

Sammy D rumors swirling but don’t get excited yet

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 17 - 2009

A hot rumor earlier has cooled down drastically as the day has worn on. Various reports in the NBA rumorville had Samuel Dalembert being dealt in a three-team deal, sending him to the Sacramento Kings.

The rumored deal:

Sixers get: Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine and Kenny Thomas

Kings get: Samuel Dalembert and J.R. Giddens

Celtics get: Andres Nocioni

It’s no secret the Sixers have been trying to deal Samuel Dalembert. The Sixers have also given Dalembert’s agent permission to seek a deal.

With the state of this Sixer roster it’s clear some players need to go. Being able to trade either Dalembert or Brand would help out dramatically. If the deal above were to be agreed upon it would free up nearly $15 Million of cap space.
More coming later…….

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

The Second Phinally Philly Podcast

Posted by David Foley On November - 16 - 2009

It’s just me goin’ it alone for a good 30 minutes in this week’s podcast, where we talk Pats-Colts, same old song and dance for the Eagles, Phillies offseason needs, and how Kieran Kelly looks identical to Brett Myers. Good times.

The Second Phinally Philly Podcast with David Foley

Brand practicing with 2nd team; Starting line-up could be changing

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 16 - 2009


Today at Sixers practice Head Coach Eddie Jordan made some changes that were certainly noticeable. Elton Brand was working with the 2nd team, while Rodney Carney and Jason Smith were both practicing with the 1st team.

Of course this raised some questions from the media, for both Brand and Jordan.

The answers received were interesting to say the least. Let’s just say there is definitely some reading between the lines necessary to know exactly whats going on.

Jordan wasn’t very forthright when answering whether or not there would be a change to the starting line-up. Brand was a little more open, stating that Jordan had told him he’d be working more with the 2′s instead of with the more up-tempo 1′s.

Now, as I mentioned earlier both Jason Smith and Rodney Carney saw time with the 1′s during practice. Clearly the line-up of Williams, Iguodala, Young, Carney and Smith was the most successful so far this season. With Willie Green and Jrue Holiday coming off the bench it’s not a bad little rotation.

Jordan seems to be “cutting the fat,” seemingly benching Brand and Dalembert during crucial parts of games. The writing has been on the wall for a while now, and this latest development just adds to the suspicions that we’ve all had.

Dalembert and Brand being on this team certainly puts the stranglehold on the Sixers cap. As I stated earlier last week there is no easy answer to this problem. Trading either of them is nearly impossible, letting them sit is an option but it’s hard to sell that to a Sixers brass that shelled out the money for both. Giving them roles off the bench could be the best compromise, for now.

Dalembert is owed more than 11 Million this season, and a little over 12 Million next season. No team is going to take on that contract and few teams could. In short, the Sixers may be stuck with Dalembert.

With Brand your also most likely stuck with him this season, if things continue to go badly a buy-out could be an option. Whether or not Brand would agree to a buy-out is uncertain. He would obviously clear waivers, which is the required first step, after that the team and player can agree on a buyout amount, similar to the Chris Webber situation. However, teams have until January 10th to do so or the player is owed his entire salary for the remainder of that season.

All of this talk may be jumping the gun but it’s a situation the Sixers can no longer ignore. Something has to be done and quickly. This team may have a new head coach and new(old) uniforms, but they still have the same problems.

Speights Injury

Marreese Speights underwent an MRI which revealed a partial tear of his MCL. He’ll be out approximately 6-8 weeks.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Sixers/Nets Preview

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 11 - 2009

The Sixers and Nets will meet tonight for the second time this young NBA season. The Sixers defeated the Nets at home 97-94 during their first meeting with Louis Williams leading the way with 18 points. Nets center Brook Lopez shined for the Nets that night scoring 22 with 11 boards.

Sixers Notes (3-4) :

* Of the four 76er losses this season three of them are against teams with no more than 2 losses. All four opponents are a combined 23-8.

* In all four losses, opponents are averaging over 50% from 3-point line.

Sixer Player Notes:

* Nearly 50% of Elton Brand’s scoring this season has been in the 1st Quarter.

* Oddly enough Samuel Dalembert is averaging more minutes played in Sixer wins.

* Marreese Speights is shooting 80% in road games this season.

Nets Notes (0-7) :

* The Nets 0-7 start is their worst in franchise history.

* Despite being 0-7 the Nets are in the top 10 in both Offensive Rebounds and Points in the Paint.

Nets Player Notes:

* Center Brook Lopez is averaging a team-high 18.0 PPG in seven starts

* The Nets are still without 6 players who are out with injuries while Courtney Lee is listed as questionable.

* Terrence Williams had a double-double in his career debut against the Timberwolves. The last Net player to do that, Derrick Coleman.

Full recap after the game right here……

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Trading Thaddeus Young or Marreese Speights only way to fix Sixers

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 11 - 2009

The Sixers currently have the NBA’s worst attendance, and worse than anger, the fans are showing apathy. So the excitement for the release of the NBA’s All-Star Ballots Tuesday has been underwhelming to say the least. Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert, and Elton Brand will be on the ballot for the 76ers.  Iguodala will probably get some minimal support, though seeing Brand and Dalembert’s names on the list will get a good laugh from Sixer and NBA fans alike.

Not on the list is Marreese Speights, mainly because he’s not a starter.  Although, that may be changing in the very near future. Like I said yesterday Eddie Jordan may be denying it, but he’s certainly experimenting. Speights has seen his playing time increasing almost every game. Guys like Willie Green, Jason Smith, Rodney Carney and rookie Jrue Holiday are gobbling up both Dalembert and Brand’s minutes. Bottom line, Jordan knows he can’t rely on either of them. The hope is the Sixers brass will allow Jordan to keep Dalembert and Brand on the bench in favor of guys who have simply been out performing them.

It didn’t take long for Ed Stefanski to put the Sixers back where Billy King had them, in NBA cap hell. Like King I believe Stefanski has good ideas but when it comes to the big moves he makes the wrong decisions. For years King tried to find a compliment to Allen Iverson, failing so many times it ended up costing him his job and costing the Sixers a near empty return for the super star in a trade with the Nuggets.

Sense the foreshadowing?

Stefanski’s first opportunity to get a big name to compliment the rest of the talent has failed so far. Brand has been either hurt or ineffective since he arrived as a free agent.

I believe Ed saw what he was working with, all the terrible contracts he had inherited from Billy King, and saw the first sign of cap day-light and jumped at the chance to get a “name.” It’s unfortunate that first name happen to be Elton Brand, we all should have known something was up when the Clippers wanted to keep him so badly. If history has taught us anything, it’s to do the exact opposite of what the Clippers do.

Is there a way out of this?

In a word, no.

No one is going to take on Dalembert’s contract, especially when there is an extra clause in his contract that would pay him more if he’s traded. Who got that contract for Dalembert? And can he come solve all the United States financial problems?

If Brand was entering the final year of his deal he may be attractive to playoff teams looking for some veteran leadership and perhaps a contributing bench player. Unfortunately he’s currently in the 2nd year of a 5-year contract. No one is stupid enough to take that deal on.

Although, there may be one way out, it’s not likely but it seems to be the Sixers only slightly possible chance to get out of this awful mess. Trade either Thaddeus Young or Marreese Speights for practically nothing and insist on either Dalembert or Brand being in the deal.

You’ll get absolutely no value in return for one of your rising stars but you’ll release at least some of the cap pressure from your shoulders.

It’s something Ed Stefanski should be looking into, it’s really his only chance to salvage this team. It’s a difficult move, but the quicker Stefanski admits he’s made mistakes the quicker the Sixers can start rebuilding, again.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Sixers lose to Suns; Holiday and Speights impress while Dalembert and Brand sit

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 9 - 2009

The Sixers shot 54% from the field, to the Suns 53% Monday night. They also shot better from the charity stripe. Not to mention winning the turnover battle as well as the battle under the boards. It just wasn’t enough to beat the Western Conference leading Phoenix Suns.

Coming out on top in the categories above will get you a W in the NBA on most nights. However, when it comes to the Sixers and what ails them, the 3 point shot has killed them even back to last season. And it once again buried them, this time courtesy of the Phoenix Suns and Jason Richardson. Richardson was the main culprit, at one point going 6-6 from three-point land, finishing 6-8, on his way to scoring a team high 29 points.

The Sixers went 5-13 from beyond the arc, while the Suns shot an impressive 15-30. And if you do the math at home (and I know all our faithful Phinally Philly readers can) that’s 50% from the three-point line, hard to win a game when a team does that against you.

The Sixers seemed to have things well under control in the first half leading by 12 at Half-time. However, in the second half the Suns did what 7-1 teams do, and the Sixers did what 3-4 teams do. The Suns made adjustments, and the Sixers did their best to respond but were eventually worn down by the better team, period.

In the second half the Suns worked the pick-and-roll more, really attacking the Sixers weakness, and they weren’t able to adjust accordingly.  Which allowed Steve Nash to dominate, he finished with 21 points,  going 8-8 from the free throw line.

Game Notes:

*  Both Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert played limited minutes. When asked about it after the game Eddie Jordan stated that the Sixers weren’t “experimenting,” he’s just trying to find out what guys can do.

I think it’s pretty clear, no matter what Jordan says. He’s starting to realize how Brand and Dalembert bring this team down, especially when playing against high-tempo teams like Phoenix. What Brand gave the Sixers tonight (4-8, 10 pts, 2 rebounds, 1 steal) is acceptable if you’re an average bench player. Though it’s certainly not acceptable for a player being paid like Brand is, nor with the expectations that come with him. As for Dalembert his numbers compared to Brands from tonight are similar, but he looks lost as usual. In Sammy’s own little world he thinks of himself as one of the NBA’s best Centers and you can see it on his face and by the way he acts on the court. He simply can not be on the floor anymore than he already is, or the Sixers don’t have a chance.

* Surprised we haven’t seen Jason Smith’s minutes increased yet. He can certainly help the Sixers on both ends of the floor and his range from outside can definitely produce match up problems for opponents.

* Jrue Holiday showed us a possible glimpse into the future with his strong play on both ends. We already knew he had a strong defensive game but he also showed he can be aggressive on the offensive end when given the chance. So far Holiday has shown at least the raw traits needed to be a good point guard in the NBA. The ability to shut down the opposing teams scorer, and showing assertiveness with the ball when opportunities present themselves. The kid could be molded into one heck of a player.

* Thaddeus Young had a relatively solid game, working to get out of his season long slump. His progression is important to the success of this team, and so far he’s had trouble finding his role in Eddie Jordan’s new system. He’s too good of a player to continue to be a non-factor out there. He’ll come around, tonight was a good first step against a tough Phoenix team.

* Marreese Speights played nearly 30 minutes and impressed during almost all of them. Speights continues to be, in my mind, the Sixers best player so far this season. He’s been an absolute monster under the boards and when he gets the ball, no matter who he’s matched up against, he’s rarely been denied. I called for more playing time for this guy and Eddie Jordan has listened, now all he needs to do is put him in the starting line-up.

Next up for the Sixers: @ New Jersey – Wednesday – 7:30 PM

Coming Wednesday: Phinally Philly NBA Power Rankings Week 2

- Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Sixers squeak past winless Nets; Brand sits majority of game

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 6 - 2009

With the win-less New Jersey Nets playing with out Yi Jianlian, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Devin Harris this figured to be a cake walk for the Sixers Friday night.

It wasn’t.

It was a seesaw game and the Sixers were able to battle through 22 lead changes, for a 97-94 victory. Louis Williams continued his impressive start to the season finishing with a team high 18 points.

Elton Brand only played a little over 18 minutes, being benched in favor of Willie Green. Green allowed the Sixers a smaller line-up as the Nets seemed to be frustrating Brand, in-turn slowing down the normally coast-to-coast running Sixers.

Once again the Sixers defense came into question early, as the Nets seemed to be getting lots of open looks. Having bogged down the Sixers running style it allowed the Nets to set up their half court offense, and better opportunities from the field.

What does it say about Eddie Jordan’s confidence in Brand? Not much, then again not much to look into either. Jordan is clearly going through his bench and putting certain guys in certain situations to see how they respond. Trying to find out what he’s working with, then they’ll go from there. It will make things a whole lot easier for everyone once everyone knows their roles. Recently, Willie Green, Jrue Holiday, Marreese Speights and Jason Kapono have been given opportunities to show what they can do. Kapono and Speights responded Tonight with both finishing in double-figures.

Jason Smith’s playing time has been increasing every game, something that has taken much too long if you ask me. Perhaps Smith coming off of last seasons injury is being slowly introduced to Jordan’s offense, so that he can focus more on the health aspect of his transition back into the line-up.

Not having their regulars in the line-up may have benefited the Nets. A team that is win-less in 6 games doesn’t have much to lose, guys sitting on the bench of an 0-6 team and getting an opportunity to play? Certainly nothing to lose their.

In the end this game should not have been close, it was an ugly game on both ends and if the Sixers plan on being a playoff team they need to get things together.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

Lou Williams taking advantage of starting opportunity

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On November - 5 - 2009

First on GM Ed Stefanski’s “To Do List” last off-season was hiring a new head coach. In a very close second was figuring out what to do, if anything, with point guard Andre Miller.

Popular opinion was that Miller would cost too much money to keep around on a team that wasn’t ready to compete in the East. Then again, there was a shortage of options to replace him as well.

While the front office mulled over what to do, Lou Williams sat by patiently waiting for the opportunity. He got that opportunity when Andre Miller signed with the Portland Trailblazers.

Many thought Lou Williams wasn’t ready to take on the role of starting point guard for the 76ers. And though it may be early into this young NBA season, Williams has been holding his own. Williams’ slashing athletic style of play is tailor-made for Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense and it’s shown early. Meanwhile, Andre Miller is averaging just over 8.2 PPG, playing only 25 minutes per game, and has zero starts in Portland.

Williams seems to be adjusting to the new offense better than his teammates. And while the point guard isn’t asked to do the usual point guard duties in this offense it’s important for him to be on point (pun intended.) Eddie Jordan expressed confidence in Williams before the season started,  but the Sixers used their 1st round pick on “future” point guard Jrue Holiday. It seemed as if everything and everyone was against Williams being the point guard to build this team around. Williams was point guard by default, or on the “interim” basis.

His play so far has proven that he may just be the point guard to build this team around.

The big question is can Lou continue playing at this level?

I believe not only can he continue to play at this level, I believe he can play even better. Williams was drafted right out of High School and thrown directly into “NBA life.” We forget that Williams is around the age of some NBA rookies, but he’s got four years of NBA experience under his belt. He’s been able to work on his game, learn and improve against the best, the highest level of competition.

So while yes it may be early, we could be watching the beginning of Lou Williams’ coming out party.

-Mike Santa Barbara

*** Follow me on Twitter @Mike__SB ***

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