Editor's Note: This post was originally written on December 9
The big news of the game may have been Allen Iverson, but the Wizards and the Sixers did in fact play a game last night. After falling way behind early on, the Wizards turned things around emphatically and got a pretty easy 15 point win. Gilbert Arenas has another big game, and guys like Brendan Haywood and Roger Mason stepped up with big contributions off the bench.
Early on, the Sixers were playing with much more energy than the Wizards. Guys like Kyle Korver, Willie Greene, and Andre Iguodala were playing as if they had something to prove. Finally freed from the AI shadow, these guys had Phily up 46-26 midway through the second quarter.Then, the Wizards started to hit shots. Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson hit key shots, and after Arenas' buzzer-beating halftime three, the Wizards were only down by 4. It got better in the third quarter, as the Wizards finally got some easy hoops and took control of the game. Phily had nothing left in the fourth and the Wizards got their second road win of the year.
It took time, but the more talented team won. The 76ers simply were overmatched tonight in the talent department. When your best player can barely jump, you know you're in trouble. The Sixers couldn't stop the Wizards offensively once the Wizards pulled themselves together. All in all, the Wizards didn't play their best game by any means. The Sixers shot nearly 50 percent from the field and didn't turn the ball over. The Wizards won because they got to the line, shooting 30 free throws compared to 19 for the Sixers. Other than that, the Wizards didn't really do anything crazy well. They had significantly more talent than the Sixers, and their offense ran circles around Phily's porous half-court defense the entire game.
Without AI, the Sixers are a mess. Chris Webber is too old and everyone else is too one-dimensional and inexperienced. None of those young guys impressed me at all, and this team needs a major makeover fast. Life without Iverson simply isn't going to be fun for Sixers fans.
Three plays in particular showed how bad the Sixers are during the third quarter.
-With the score tied at 65, Caron Butler had the ball on the wing and dribbled aimlessly towards the middle, with Kyle Korver staying right with him. Despite this, Rodney Carney, who was guarding DeShawn Stevenson on the wing, takes his eye off his man and commits slightly towards Butler. Stevenson goes backdoor and Butler hits him for the easy jam as Carney just stood there helplessly.Probably the worst man defense I've ever seen.
-Off a Sixers miss, Gilbert Arenas sees the Sixers getting back slowly and throws a long pass ahead to Stevenson. Carney and Steven Hunter are slow to get back, and Kevin Ollie is standing aimlessly in the middle of the court staring at the flight of the ball. Stevenson makes the catch and both Kyle Korver and Chris Webber run at him. Meanwhile, Brendan Haywood sneaks behind Ollie and is wide open on the other side. Easy alley oop, easy slam for Haywood. 71-65 Wizards.
-78-73, final minute of the quarter. Haywood comes out and sets a high screen for Arenas at the top of the key. Steven Hunter and Kevin Ollie attempt to trap Arenas, but Ollie is easily picked off and Hunter cheats left when trying to hedge. Arenas splits the two and comes right down the lane. Korver and Webber both come to greet him, leaving Caron Butler wide open on the right side. Butler takes the pass and goes right to the rim. Carney, who had been guarding Stevenson on the other side, comes to meet him, but instead of holding his ground, Carney jumps in a feigned attempt to block the shot. Butler easily maneuvers around Carney in the air for the huge two-handed jam.
Three horrible defensive sequences helped to bring the Sixers down last night. The Wizards weren't doing anything fancy, but the Sixers still had no idea how to rotate as a team. Phily is just a downright terrible defensive team.
As for the bigger news, I've heard Denver, Minnesota, the Clippers, Golden State, Seattle, Indiana, and even Boston mentioned as potential Iverson destinations. It appears the Sixers don't want to deal him to an Eastern Conference club, so I doubt he ends up with Indy or Boston. Denver and Minnesota both sound good, but both break down in a hurry.A KG/Iverson or Melo/Iverson combo sounds great, but Minnesota would be even further in salary cap hell and Denver isn't looking to add another scorer.
Seattle and the Clippers sound the most intriguing to me. The Clippers could do it with Shaun Livingston or they could put together a Maggette/Mobley/Singelton/Sofoklis Schortsianitis package. Iverson and Elton Brand would get along really well together, and if Livingston stays, the Clippers would be right up there with the best in the West. Seattle also may work, possibly something like Rashard Lewis/Luke Ridnour/one of the young centers. Iverson and Ray Allen may be able to put Seattle back near the top again. Also, don't rule out teams like Sacramento and Chicago. Both teams have imaginative GMs and interesting trade pieces. A Mike Bibby/Kevin Martin package is intriguing, and the Bulls could do it with a Ben Gordon/Luol Deng/P.J. Brown/ offer. Either way, expect the unexpected with an Iverson trade.
As for the Wizards, last night was a good win, and with Houston coming into town tonight, another victory would be huge.
Postgame thoughts? What did you think about the win?