On Tap: The Philadelphia 76ers

Kurt —  November 11, 2005

This game has two interesting defensive questions to be answered:

1) How does Smush hold up against the ultimate penetrating small guard in the league (and does Kobe spend some time on him too)?

2) What lessons did the rest of the NBA take away from the Laker collapse at the end of the Minnesota game, when the T-Wolves went largely to a zone and the Lakers looked lost?

The first question is the one that will be the fun one to watch (and will get all the media attention). Iverson takes a lot of shots but has never been efficient with them — he’s shooting just 39.8% (eFG%) for the season and has a true shooting % of 48.2% (which takes into account free throws), both very low (for comparison, Kobe is at 50.4% eFG% and 55.8% TS%). What Iverson’s penetration does do is tend to get other team members good looks. Chris Webber is the only other Sixer who takes a decent number of shots, but he’s shooting just 46.2% this season. The guys who really benefit by the good looks are Andre Iguodala (shooting 68% this season) and Kyle Korver, who is shooting 41.2% from beyond the arc.

The second question was something a lot of people seemed to notice — it was in my notes, it was picked up on by the AP writer (and Henry at True Hoops). The Lakers were tired at the end of that game in Minnesota and started to make some questionable offensive choices (leading to poor shots). But they also seemed not to recognize and react to the zone defense Minnesota put out there. In this league, it doesn’t take long for word of any weakness to get around. Whether or not the Lakers really struggle against zones (the triangle, if run properly, should overload it) or if that was the aberration at the end of a back-to-back we shall see soon, because the Lakers are going to get tested with it again. Likely in the City of Brotherly Love, but certainly somewhere soon.

The Sixers have been playing well, they have a two-game winning streak that includes a win over Dallas. The Lakers are fortunate to catch Philly with the athletic Samuel Dalembert out due to injuries, but that certainly doesn’t mean this is a gimme. This game and Monday in Memphis are both games that the Lakers are capable of winning if they play well, but could also easily loose if they aren’t ready mentally. Two toss up games. The kind of games playoff teams find ways to win more than they lose, even in November.


As a side note, I’m going out of town this weekend, a local getaway for my wife’s birthday. Use the comments to talk about the game, I’ll check in over the weekend. But no new posts until Sunday night/Monday morning. Have a good weekend everyone.

to On Tap: The Philadelphia 76ers

  1. I think the defensive key may be Philly’s poor outside shooting allowing the Lakers to pack the lanes against penetration by Iguodala & Iverson. I think this will allow Kobe to really cheat and help Kwame/Mihm against Webber/Hunter. Offensively Odom&Kwame have to push into the paint against the slower Webber&Hunter duo.


  2. This will be the first game I will be able to see Live, so I’m not predicting anything. About packing the lane to feed Philly’s outside shooting, which is “poor”… well, Worthy, are you forgetting about Kyle Korver? You really want to leave him wide open?

    The key to winning this game is in Mihm and Kwame. They will need to be as dominant as possible and force Webber to take shots he doesn’t like. His knees are not healthy and he has lost a lot of speed, so if he gets to the top of the key, either Kwame or Mihm must follow him in order NOT to allow Webber to shoot the ball from a spot he likes…

    About the zonal defense, here’s the problem… The Lakers don’t have aggressive enough post-up players. Players who like to charge to the rim consistently.

    With a starting lineup of Smush, Kobe, Odom, Kwame and Mihm, Philly needs to put a 2-3 defense in order to shut down the Lakers. Odom won’t be able to penetrate and he’s not an effective three point shooter. So, one problem is solved. On the other hand, with the amount of bodies down-low and the inability by Mihm to create his own shot (and Kwame apparent lack of will), the defense will hold the low-post threat without the need to collapse on those players. Being a good passer is important, but if you can’t score, the defense will fluctuate more and stop the wide open shots at the three point range. And with this starting lineup, only Smush and Kobe would be producing offensively, which we all know is not enough to win games.

    So, what can be done? Pull Kwame out and get George in (I would put Walton, but he’s still injured, right?). Make Odom work down low… He’s fast and athletic enough to gain his spot and get the edge over Webber/Hunter/Korver (those would be defending down low). As the defense collapses on Odom (because he is a threat) Mihm would easily get some easy baskets on the weak side (5-6 feet from the basket for some easy shots or even some layups). Having a smart coach, they would adjust to that and focus even more down-low. Mihm would eventually stop scoring as the defense tries to give more help.

    What to do then? Get either Smush or George (Kobe won’t have that much space) to fluctuate even more to the weak side. Place him in a spot where the defender near that area has to compromise giving help down-low or stay out to prevent the threy. And then, the wide open shots must go in… If they fall, the game is easily won. If they miss, nothing else you can do…

    PS: the role of Kobe against a zonal defense? Run the fastbreak whenever is possible. And try to get some dribble penetration. Yes, I know zonal defense is made to prevent that, but if you manage to get past a defender and quickly pass the ball to the open man, the defense CAN’t, I repeat, CAN’T compensate fast enough to prevent the shot.


  3. i was a little nervous about them beating dallas, until i saw that dirk got injured during that game.

    still, the lakers better be prepared for war and come out with their helmets on for the entire game, like in denver.

    if we start to fall behind and kwame reverts to being useless again, i’d try odom at the 4 and have him test webber’s knees. they seem to look a lot better this year though.


  4. Walton may be back for this game. He’s suposedly healthy, I think phil’s just looking for the right time to put him in (and the minny game wasn’t it). I think we’ll see him for 5-6 minutes in the second today.


  5. Mihm and Kwame need to be more aggresive in the post for the simple fact that it is obvious that their teammates don’t feel comfortable with throwing the ball in. The triangle allows for the option of swinging the ball when the post pass is not there, but this happened way too much at the end of the Minny game. They should dedicate the first quarter to getting thos guys the ball early and often. Establish them, then when they need to go to the post at the end of the game there is already a comfort level. Also, Kwame has begun to show an affinity for drawing fouls with his quickness.

    Kwame/Chris need to put the shoe on the other foot and be aggressive and get the opponents bigs early fouls.


  6. Well, they lost it in the 4th quarter. I think the Lakers blew a fantastic chance here. Lamar Odom, who had been strong in the 3rd quarter, didn’t even get off a shot in the 4th.

    He (Lamar) needs to be involved, and at least get a few shots – every quarter. I’m not sure if this is his teammates, his coaching, or HIM – but something needs to change.


  7. I actually got to see the game and I’m not quite sure where we let the game slip away because it looked like we had it in hand until the last 3 min or so. It seemed as though everyone who was contributing earlier in the game i.e. Chris, and lamar just couldn’t seem to find a way to add to how the had played previously in the game. It came down to once again the entire team almost expecting Kobe to win it for them. He almost did but can you really expect someone who is having an off night to come threw at the end when the entire game his shot wasn’t falling?
    I thought that Kwame had a lot of good intentions in the game and he seemed to be more aggresive down low on offense but his shot just wasn’t falling as much as I had hoped.
    In closing I just hope that the TEAM will transition into the triangle a little bit sooner then later in the offense because it might have just been my eyes fooling me but when philly got back on defense it looked as though they knew exactly how to disrupt the triangle from being initiated.


  8. kwame was drivin me crazy. i think laker fans are going to have to lower the bar on what they expect from him, at least in the near future. set a goal for him that just might be reachable, like CATCH THE GODDAMN BALL.

    it was good to see the clippers do worse against the sixers today in their loss. [ who was the other person who voted they’d come in first in the division in the poll?]

    clippers were tied for the second best record in the league, and they got more of their proverbial shit together than the lakers do at this point. and they weren’t all that close for most of the game.


  9. Right now the Clippers are playing better basketball. Period. However, their schedule has been easier (good wins against Washington and Minnesota, two wins against Atlanta and one against a struggling Seattle team) and the Lakers have blown two easy oppurtunities. We should be at least 2-1 on this road trip. If not 3-0.

    My expectations were to be 8-7 after the first fifteen games. But, what makes this early part of the season so frustrating is that we could easily be 5-1.