Perhaps it’s time for a different sport? After starting off the young season by winning 3 straight games, they’ve now lost 11 of their last 13 games. And there is no relief in sight, what with them having to player other basketball teams. If they got to play themselves, they’d win every game, but it doesn’t really work like that.
So what the hell happened? Frankly…reality. Iverson is still a force on offense, but his defense has been subpar for almost two years now. He plays the passing lanes well, but his size just isn’t conducive to playing good NBA-level defense. He can still score as well as anyone in the league, but he seems to have lost some of the efficiency with which he shot last year. He’s had a few clunkers thrown in there, such as his 6-19 showing against the Timberwolves. He’s simply not taking the best shots. He’s throwing up 3.7 three pointers a game, but is averaging only 21.2% on them. Just ridiculous. Still, he’s not an overall ngative.
So what else? Chris Webber’s entire game has declined. His biggest attribute in Sacremento was his passing and the ability to get his teammates involved. However, with the offense not flowing through him anymore, and Father Time simply creeping up on Webber and his knees, he hasn’t been able to get into a flow with the rest of his teammates. He’s averaging 13 shots and 10.6 points a game, both career lows, and has publicly stated being unhappy with his role. Cheeks actually sat him for about 6 games because of lower back stiffness, and it’s unlikely that he will stay healthy the whole season. 2006 was an abberation, and it wasn’t even that good of a season for a 20 point scorer (43% for a PF is pathetic). But, the Sixers lost without him and they are losing with him, so it’s not just him either.
So there’s more wrong with the Sixers than the big two. Shavlike Randolph, a decent enough big man backup, is out for the season. Kyle Korver has missed the last two games. Sam Dalembert has been his usual unreliable, up and down self. Steven Hunter was hurt for 5 games and has had spotty minutes when he’s been healthy. 17 minutes for Hunter is ridiculous. He brings a lot of energy to both ends of the court, and the numbers will come in the form of rebounds and blocks if he got 25+ minutes a game. However, Mo Cheeks has simply had some odd coaching decisions, again. One night he plays Kevin Ollie 26 minutes…the next night he gives those minutes to a severely underused Willie Green. Then he toys with the idea of playing youngsters Rodney Carney and Ivan McFarlin, but has actually increasingly used completely average veteran Alan Henderson. He’ll go with Iverson, Iguodala, and Ollie all on the court at the same time, but won’t try Dalembert and Hunter together much.
About the only positive this year has been the slow emergence of Andre Iguodala. He’s handling the ball more, getting more looks, taking more shots, and quietly becoming a possible triple-double threat (like when he scored 18, grabbed 16 boards, and collected 10 assists in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks). He’s certainly taken longer than some in his draft class to add a scoring touch and offensive aggression to his game, but it’s happening. So far he has career highs in every category but shooting percentage.
Is there any hope for the Sixers season? Not unless the Sixers become entirely healthy, all play as a unit, and Mo Cheeks suddenly becomes Red Auerbach. So hey, it’s possible.