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Sunday, May 13, 2012

76ers Need to Get More Physical

I watched the first game of the series between the Celtics and 76ers last night and observed the following:

1.  The 76ers' interior defense cost them last night.  Put simply, they need to get a lot more physical.  Coach Doug Collins needs to either instruct or encourage one of the bigs to take a few hacks, particularly at Kevin Garnett, or find someone at the end of the bench willing to mix it up, throw a hip, an elbow or land on someone and make a statement.  Put simply, Kevin Garnett is a dirty player, clandestinely so, extending a hip on a screen or throwing an elbow when the refs aren't looking.  This happened on several occasions last night, as did interior penetration when 76ers' big got danced around and didn't make a statement to the effect of "you just don't come into our lane and get away with this."  Moses Malone would have made such a statement, so would have Charles Barkley and many others, Wilt included.  To win this series, the 76ers have to be as physical if not more.

2.  Rajon Rondo is a special player.  He'll have his moments, but the key is not to let the Avery Bradleys and Brandon Basses beat you.

3.  The 76ers' biggest flaw is their shooting, not only making open shots but also shot selection.  How many times can fans endure air balls from Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes, both on poorly selected shots?

4.  Elton Brand disappeared last night.  Was he hurt or was he just ineffective?  I thought that Hawes was gassed by the end, and that had to tick off Brand, who barely made a difference and Allen, who played so well that he must have thought he should have been in there at the end.

5.  The 76ers need to work better to exploit the Celtics' age.  They need to run Ray Allen, Garnett and Paul Pierce, as well as Bass, to make them earn every defense stop and every offensive play.  The more they do that, the deeper they will go in this playoff series and the better they will fare.  They especially need to do this against a crafty, veteran team that is looking for one last hurrah before overturning its roster and falling back before surging forward again.  It's great to have a relatively young team.  To the 76ers' credit, they kept on answering the Celtics late in the game and did not fold.  To their detriment, their inexperience showed and they failed to finish off a beatable opponent last night.  That ability to close will come with time, but it's something the 76ers need to work on.

This should be an exciting series.


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