Today, I could write a nice “I told you so” piece on Dorell Wright being inserted into the Philadelphia 76ers’ starting lineup, but I’m not Skip Bayless.
Instead I’m too cynical right now of a team that’s just 14-15 overall and has shot just 44 percent from the field while scoring just 93.6 points per game this season. To add onto all of that muck, the Sixers are only 5-8 on the road this season even following last night’s improbable road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, and still have six more games left on this daunting road trip.
Until they can do it again, in another premium opponent’s house, I’m going to be very dubious in the following areas the Sixers looked as if they excelled in last night, and I’ll explain why.
Interior Defense: Despite a team season-high 12 blocks, the Sixers still forfeited 42 points in the paint, largely coming at the hands of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Interior defense has been one of this team’s biggest weaknesses this season without Andrew Bynum.
Spencer Hawes’ “Brilliant” Game: As a Sixers fan, if you hear that Hawes scored 20 points on 9-14 shooting from the field, you’re most likely elated. But, looking at Hawes’ shot chart, he really didn’t play like a true big man this team desperately needs while Bynum’s knees remain sidelined. Of his 14 shots, only 4 came from inside the paint, two of which he made. The rest of his offensive game? Hawes shot 8 jump shots from 14+ feet. Even though he did shoot 7-10 from mid-range, a team struggling with good shot selection really shouldn’t be having a 7’1, 250 pound mondo nowhere near the rim. As a whole, the team’s shot selection wasn’t better last night; they just made shots at a higher percentage.
Free throws: Wright starting in place of Jason Richardson really did increase the team’s total free throw attempts in Memphis, but that doesn’t mean he’s the answer to the team’s overall free throw woes. Wright had 8 free throw attempts, 6 above his season average last night. If you don’t include those 6 attempts, the Sixers, as a team, attempted just 17 free throws, which is actually below their already putrid average of 18.1. Considering head coach Doug Collins never plays a consistent rotation, you can’t rely on Wright to play 28 minutes a game, especially when Richardson returns, and get to line as frequently as he did last night in the future.
Fast Break Points/Turnovers: The Sixers turned the ball over 17 times against the Grizzlies. They forced just 13 Memphis turnovers and proceeded to score just 18 points off of them. Even forcing those turnovers, grabbing 9 steals and adding 12 blocks, the Sixers still only mustered up 16 fast break points. Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday combining for 11 turnovers is a horrible sign as well.
While some fans are celebrating an “impressive” road win, take a look at these troubling areas and also consider that Memphis played without their all-star-caliber swingman, Rudy Gay. Was this win really a positive sign of things to come?
Jake Fischer is a Sixers contributor for Buzz On Broad. He also serves as the CAA Columnist for RantSports.com and writes for numerous sections of the Huffington Post. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.