Blog Entry

Brand not fitting in

Posted on: December 4, 2008 5:13 pm

News that Elton Brand is day-to-day -- and out for Friday night's game in Detroit -- with a hamstring injury only underscores the struggles Philadelphia is having trying to find the right niche for their prized free-agent big man.

The Sixers were a running team last year and made the playoffs by outhustling opponents with a somewhat unorthodox style. They needed to play that way because they didn't have a consistent post scorer to play through. Now that they have one, they don't know what to do with him.

The Sixers are 8-11 with Brand well below his career averages in scoring (16.7) and blocks (1.5). A 50 percent career shooter, Brand is hovering around 45 percent from the field.

"If we had to do that deal over, I’d do it in a second," team president Ed Stefanski said. "Every game he’s getting better and better. I'm very happy with Elton Brand -- 17 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks a game. He’s giving it to us."

And in truth, it's not just Brand. Andre Iguodala was struggling badly before snapping out of it the past two games. Lou Williams, a bright spot last season, is shooting 35 percent. Coach Mo Cheeks changed things up in the past two games -- the Sixers beat the Bulls and lost to the Lakers -- with Iguodala handling the ball more and wing players attacking the basket. This is a team really struggling to find its identity. Stefanski hinted Wednesday that he wants Cheeks to play a smaller lineup more often. But if so, why'd the Sixers give Brand $80 million?

Before Wednesday night's game Lakers coach Phil Jackson put his finger right on the pulse of the problem. First, Brand can't possibly be 100 percent after missing all but the final eight games last season with an Achilles injury. Second, a team that is used to playing without a low-post scorer needs time to figure out how to play that way.

"The NBA game’s evolving to more high-post centers and more unloading the post and giving players more opportunities to penetrate through dribble and opportunities to run guys in through the wings," Jackson said. "Having a static post or guys who play down on the post does present problems for drivers and penetrators."

Just as the Sixers.


Category: NBA

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 3:52 pm

Brand not fitting in

So the Celtics beat Cleveland by 5 on opening night, and they're automatically the clear favorite to win the East?

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you're probably a Celtic fan.

Anyway, yes Boston beat Cleveland last year -- in seven games. I'm sure you watched the series, and you Cleveland was one turnover from an NBA Finals appearance.

Are you aware that Cleveland is not the same team they were a year ago?

All that champagne you guys have been drinking is going to your head.

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2008 3:30 pm

Brand not fitting in

Boston beat Cleveland last year in the playoffs, beat Cleveland already this year, have a better record than Cleveland, and have the best defensive PPG average in the league...   but Cleveland's the favorite to win the east ?

Since: Oct 29, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 2:26 pm

Brand not fitting in

I think that Philly has a legitimate shot to be in the conversation for conference champs this year. I know the east is almost as deep as the west this year, with Boston the defending champs, and Cleveland playing out of their minds, and Detroit, Indiana and Orlando, but Philly is arguable the most talented team of the bunch. Think about it, do you know any team in the league who can match up with the raw athleticism of Miller, Iguodala, Young, Brand and Dalembert? Plus, you have Williams as a solid spark off the bench. I think this team no only has chemistry issues at the moment, but the majority of them are slumping. They did this last year too though, starting the season out awfully, then almost making the playoffs. Part of that, at some point, has to be on the coach. It may be time to get a new voice in there, but once they figure out how to play together, they could challenge at least for a division title. Remember, there's still over 60 games to go. That's a lot of basketball.

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 1:37 pm

Brand not fitting in

If you're a 30 year fan, then I think you realize by now anything can happen in the playoffs. I'm also surprised that such a long time fan would disregard the fact that its only the 5th week of the season. You're basing your "realistic" expectations on a tiny sample, and completely ignoring the fact that Brand is is brand new to this team.

I would definitely say Cleveland is the favorite at this point to win the East. They're deeper than Boston and have the talent (obviously) to go to the Finals because they're have a defensive mindset they lacked last season.

PS I'm a Knicks fan who couldn't care less about the success of the Sixers.

Since: Oct 14, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 1:14 pm

Brand not fitting in

Yea, I am not too familiar with the NBA.....after watching it for 30 years I think I am kind of familiar with it.  There is no problem supporting your favorite team, but do it realistically.  A series between the Sixers and Boston wouldn't even GO seven games.  Root for a playoff spot, but a conference championship?  With Boston, Cleveland, Detroit...hell, even Indiana right now, playing miles and miles better than Philly?  Not hardly.

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 12:59 pm

Brand not fitting in

You have no idea how this team will be playing in four months. I wouldn't say no prayers against Boston in a best of seven if they learn how to play together. Brand needs to play better but to say they have no shot after 19 games shows you're not too familiar with the NBA.

Since: Oct 14, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 12:54 pm

Brand not fitting in

Yea, if they have suddenly changed conferences to one that disallows any teams over prayer of even being 20 games of Boston.

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2008 12:51 pm

Brand not fitting in

I think it bears pointing out that Brand played only 8 games last year. He's coming back from a serious achilles injury that would have kept lesser athletes in rehab into this season.

What you say about their running style last year is true, but to be fair that was the only way they could outlast opponents without a big man to build around. Now that they have Brand, they need to work through him and Iggy to build a system that works both on offense AND on defense. This isn't NBA Live '08 - this stuff takes time.

Yes the Sixers are 8-11, but let's not freak out only 19 games into the season. This isn't the first playoff team to learn how to play with one another during the first two or three months of the regular season.

I have a feeling we'll all be talking about their chances at a Conference Championship before this year is done.

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