While the debacle that was the Eagles game was going on, another dismal event happened in the realm of Philadelphia sports – the 76ers were getting blown out by the Knicks. This did not happen once, but twice. Sunday and Monday, the Sixers put up pretty bad looking numbers against the New York team that has been such a disappointment for the past few years. Losing 100-84 and 110-88 respectively, the bad just seemed to get worse for our boys. So are the Knicks just that much better? Or are the Sixers just that bad? Let’s look at a few things before we make that decision.
There ARE several concerns when it comes to the Sixers, but not all of them refer to mode of play. The team is wrought with injuries. (Surprise!) It seems to be quite typical of Philly sports teams this year.
Aside from Andrew Bynum’s well-documented knee problems, back-up center Kwame Brown suffered a semi-serious calf strain. Adding insult to injury, we have now lost starting shooting guard Jason Richardson to a sprained left ankle. While the sprain is reportedly not too serious, management is erring on the side of caution and sitting him for a couple of games so as not to aggravate anything. This is not good news for the Sixers, and obviously hurt them a lot against the Knicks. J-Rich is arguably the best three-point shooter on the team, and has the most NBA experience on the roster. He is a huge necessity for the Sixers’ back-court, although Nick Young and Dorell Wright are not too shabby in making up for the same skill set.
The biggest contributor in points in both games was Jrue Holiday, with 27 and 17, respectively. While those are good numbers, Holiday should not be the leading scorer every game. It just shouldn’t work that way. With the new acquisitions on the roster, Holiday should be playing the role of a more pure point guard; it has to be his job to read the defense and set up the other players, not always take the matter into his own hands. Thaddeus Young, who was no match for Carmelo Anthony inside the paint, did manage to put up 14 points, as did Young, but it was too little too late. And unfortunately, as was feared, Spencer Hawes came up way too short in his 21 minutes off the bench; and Lavoy Allen didn’t serve much better at center.
The reason this pair of losses to the Knicks is so disturbing is because it begs the question of whether or not the Atlantic Division is going to be that much tougher this year, let alone the entire Eastern Conference. Last season the Knicks were not necessarily a force to be reckoned with. This year they not only beat us twice in a row, but they managed to stomp over the reigning champions, the Miami Heat, beating them by 20 points. That’s huge. Also, the Nets seem to be improving. The Celtics are definitely still tough. And the Raptors, while not outstanding, don’t look half bad either.
But it’s too early to get too worried. The Sixers face the New Orleans Hornets tonight, a team that is missing two key starters – rookie first round draft pick Anthony Davis (concussion) and Austin Rivers (sprained finger). But coach Doug Collins maintains that coming out with a win will not be the easiest task considering New Orleans’ is very strong defensively. This means that both Allen and Hawes will really have to step it up, and Young and White NEED to hit their jumpers to make up for the loss of Richardson. The good news is it might give both of them more opportunities to step up, which could set the wheels in motion for them to play better for the rest of the season. And let’s hope that’s the case. (I, for one, cannot take another loss to a New Orleans’ team after that pathetic display of football by the Eagles on Monday night).
Aside from tonight’s game, the season is not lost. It is pretty much an accepted fact that when Bynum returns a lot will change. Tyson Chandler said as much, noting that without Bynum, the Sixers are “more perimeter-oriented.” Chandler also stated that he is expecting the Sixers to be an entirely different team next time they meet, especially offensively. That’s all well and good, but until that time comes (which most likely won’t be for at least another three weeks) a lot will be riding on the guys on the outside to make big plays, and for Hawes and Allen to step up their drives up to the basket. The season is only three games in so far though, so it is not cause for alarm – yet.Tags: Andrew Bynum, Dorell Wright, Doug Collins, hope, Jason Richardson, Jrue Holiday, Kwame Brown, Lavoy Allen, NBA, Nick Young, Philadelphia 76ers, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young