Philadelphia 76ers 77, San Antonio Spurs 71: Will somebody make a shot?
WELLS FARGO CENTER â€” In a game that Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said “set offensive basketball back a decade or so,” the Spurs fell to the 76ers 77-71 in Philadelphia. The Spurs half court defense looked excellent, but in the end, the offense was simply too anemic to pull this one out.
Almost everyone struggled to find the bottom of the net on this night. Incredibly, each Spurs starter finished with more field goals attempted than points scored. Tim Duncan went 7-18, Richard Jefferson 1-8, DeJuan Blair 3-11, Tony Parker 3-10, Manu Ginobili 2-10 and off the bench, George Hill went 0-6. As a team, the Spurs made only 3 of 17 from down town and (I estimate) 6 of 34 on 2-point Jâ€™s. The offensive ineptitude appeared endless.
Perhaps the best offensive performance was from old reliable himself, Antonio McDyess, who finished with 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 11 rebounds in 20 minutes. I know Philly has a solid defensive team, but come onâ€¦ canâ€™t anybody create with efficiency?
It wasnâ€™t simply a matter of shots not falling, the Spurs were also careless at times with the basketball. They were officially credited with 16 turnovers and several other passes were nearly picked. These turnovers fuel the best part of the Sixers offense tonight â€“ the fast break. (Jrue Holiday wasnâ€™t bad either.)
The Sixers outscored the Spurs 21-5 on the break. Predictably, many of their scores came with Elton Brand at center and Thaddeus Young at the 4 spot. When Blair and Duncan were paired against this lineup, both eagerly looked to retaliate by taking advantage of Youngâ€™s soft post defense.
However, when Matt Bonner was in the game against the Sixers fast break lineup, his presence allowed Young to defend on the perimeter and the Sixers to run wild on the break without consequence. Additionally, the Sixers excel at limiting opponent 3-point attempts. Bonner was only able to attempt one field goal during his 18 minutes of play.
Of course not everything San Antonio did was bad. The Spurs did get decent looks on offense. 20 of the 27 field goals were assisted, most of them also high percentage looks. By my very unofficial count, they also attempted 30 “close shots” (usually layups or dunks) and made 18. Even the number of 3’s attempted (17) doesnâ€™t seem as bad considering who itâ€™s coming against. And the defense certainly looked good.
The Spurs held Brand to just eight points on 4 of 11 shooting (he did pull down 17 boards), Andre Iguodala missed all 10 of his jumpers to finish 2-15 from the field and Lou Williams missed 8 of his 9 jump shots to finish 3 of 13 overall.
Many of the times Williams drove to the hole, he seemed determined to get to the line, but the help defense did a solid job of contesting without committing fouls. The one Sixer that got away was Jrue Holiday. Holiday made his four field goals en route to a game high 27.
So we know this wasnâ€™t exactly a shooting clinic out there. All I really had to say was “Final Score: 77-71” to get that point across. So what exactly can we take from this game? Well, despite the perception of streaky shooting, I would not expect the Spurs cold touch to pour over without any additional context.
I could buy that for the short term, weariness limits shooting effectiveness, but since the Spurs were able to create and connect from inside at a reasonable rate, I wouldnâ€™t say thatâ€™s the problem. The players are basically the same, but is there any reason to suspect that any of them are really different shooters than the night before? Not that I see. DeJuan Blair started taking some of the same uncomfortable shots he was taking in the beginning of the season. I could also see decision making carrying over from game to game. Finally, ball movement didnâ€™t seem good. Although the Spurs successful passes led to good shots, it seemed to me that they relied too much on one pass to set up the easy bucket instead of ball movement. Many of the 3-point shots attempted were desperation 3’s and not clean looks at the hoop. All of these things are problems that can be addressed.
Although this disappointing loss isnâ€™t meaningless, it definitely doesn’t appear cause for concern. It should also help that Washington and New Jersey are next up. If the Spurs can get through this final push of the Rodeo Road Trip, they can begin readying themselves for the likes of Dallas, Utah, Denver, Oklahoma, New Orleans and the Lakers instead of teams like Sacramento, Detroit, Toronto, New Jersey and Washington.