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Open thread: Regular season game 47

The essentials:
Wizards (24-22) at Sixers (18-30)
7 p.m.
Wachovia Center

This year:
November 21: Wizards 116, Sixers 101.
November 30: Sixers 85, Wizards 84.

Notable Sixers numbers this season
T20th in expected winning percentage (.393).
26th in pace factor (89 possessions per game).
23rd in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (104.5)
16th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (107.8).

Key links (drop any others in the comments)
Passion and Pride.
Sixers Shots.
Sixers Journal.
Les Bullez: Will the real Haywood please stand up?.
Post: Looking for offensive balance.
Sixers Shots: Invert the offense.
Passion and Pride blog preview.

Starting lineups:
PG: Andre Miller
SG: Willie Greene
SF: Andre Iguodala
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Samuel Dalembert

PG: Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's lines:
Sixers at Wizards: Wizards by 1.5.
Over/Under on Big 2 scoring: 43 points.

Happy Super Tuesday!

We're struggling Part I (Offense): Since the huge win over Dallas, we're only 2-5, with three of those losses happening in blowout fashion.  Sunday was more of the same, as our offense couldn't get into gear and Kobe shredded DeShawn Stevenson defensively.  

Obviously, when you play that badly, you're struggling on both ends of the court.  Offensively, we've only topped 100 twice during this stretch, and both of those games were in overtime.  We had an 87-point game against Utah (a below-average defensive team), an 83-point night against Toronto (a good, but not great defense) and just 79 through most of the fourth quarter against Milwaukee (a horrible defensive team).  Caron Butler (when healthy) and Antawn Jamison are doing their part, but nobody else is.  DeShawn is slumping from outside, AD is a non-factor, Haywood has been inconsistent once again, and the bench has been beyond awful.

The key to improving the offense is simple, as Ivan mentioned in the link above.

Indeed, one of the biggest indicators of success this season has been balanced scoring. The Wizards are 6-1 when all five starters score in double figures and are 8-1 when they shoot better than 50 percent as a team.

This is a bit of a catch-22, because if the supporting players aren't doing their part, Caron and Antawn will try to do more and sabotage things when they should be moving the ball, but how can you blame them?  Everyone else has to do their part, particularly AD, as DarrellWalkerFan mentioned the other day.

i think he's worn down. to some degree, as he goes, the wiz go, and he's been struggling of late.

Yet he's played over 40 minutes during this stretch because Roger Mason has been awful recently.  Again, it's a catch-22.  AD needs to rest, but if we lose so much with him on the bench, what should Eddie Jordan do?

That was a bit of a rant.  Let's go to the defense: 122 to Toronto.  103 to the Lakers in a slow game.  121 to the Cavs.  Obviously, that's a problem with our defense, and indeed, we've seen our defensive efficiency slide down to 20th in the past couple weeks.  

I'm not too, too concerned with the Lakers game, because Kobe was hot and wasn't missing anything no matter how tough DeShawn played him.  Otherwise, though, we have problems, and I think it starts with the big guy, Brendan Haywood.  

Les Bullez talked about him today, though I think they picked the wrong things to focus on.  Haywood's never been a super rebounder.  As we've been over many times, he's good at clearing out space for Jamison to grab rebounds.  Additionally, Kingly-1 criticized him for his performance against the Lakers, when he only played a criminally low 17 minutes.  

But strangely enough, Haywood's defensive impact hasn't quite been there recently, and even this season.  In the past few years, he affected the team's defensive efficiency far more dramatically than he has this season.  Opposing centers like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Mehmet Okur lit him up recently, which really is bad because individual defense has been Haywood's calling card.  He's having his best season ever offensively, but he's slipping on the other end, and for a team that relies on him so heavily there, that's a problem.

Also, we've seen a renewal of smallball recently.  That has to stop.

Some words on Philly: They're humming around at 18-30, and were the victims of an insane Josh Smith 5 by 5 game last night.  They're pretty much the same team we saw earlier in the year, except for one key switch.  They've inserted rookie Thaddeus Young into the starting lineup, and are playing Jason Smith more, which gives them more offense at the expense of a bit of rebounding.  It's something they should have done a long time ago, though some say it's not far enough.

Keys to the game: Offensive balance.  I'm tired of seeing guys like AD, Stevenson, and Songaila moving robotically through the Princeton offense.  They need to start getting more aggressive, because as Ivan said, we win when we get everyone involved.

This is an open game thread, so long for us to have a skinny 7'7'' shot blocking machine here.