Tag Archive | "Jrue Holiday"

Rights To Ricky Sanchez Podcast: Sixers Blow It Up w/ Mike Levin of Liberty Ballers

Nerlens Noel

The Sixers haven’t made a trade this big in forever. Or at least in 11 months or so.

The Sixers traded Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel (and other stuff), and shocked us all. It’s pretty awesome.

Mike Levin of Liberty Ballers got up early this morning to talk about it with me. Make sure to check out all of the Liberty Ballers draft coverage.

You can also read what I wrote about the big trade at CBS Philly [Hinkie Comes Alive! Houston, We Have A Plan Too].

Follow Mike on Twitter @Michael_Levin.

Subscribe to the Time’s Yours podcast on iTunes.

(by the way, if you subscribe on iTunes, please rate the podcast! Pretty please!)

Subscribe to the Time’s Yours podcast via RSS.

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Conroy: A Sixers Question And Answer Session

Michael Conroy is a freelance sportswriter and Flyers fan, and a guest writer for Spike Eskin Dot Com. You can find him on Twitter @MichaelConroyPM.

They get money. Don’t be mad, now. Stop, hatin’ is bad. The Philadelphia 76ers did exactly what we wanted them to last year. They won a playoff round and played a tough second series against the Celtics. That was the goal that had been established earlier in the season by the most optimistic Sixers fans. Yet somehow, through the ups and downs of the season, we still found a way to be a bit disappointed in them.

That’s the beauty of sports; the ability of the many twists and turns of a season to pull us all out of our analytical, logical way of thinking. It injects some emotion into our dull lives, and that’s a good thing; in most cases. Still, I feel like we owe it to the team and ourselves, this time around, to pay a little more attention to those realistic expectations as this season moves forward.

Last week, in New Orleans, I could already feel the rage boiling up inside as the Sixers bricked seventeen 3’s against the Hornets. Then I found myself all excited again following a damn fun win in Boston. After Monday night’s fourth quarter collapse against Milwaukee, I felt enough was enough. It may be necessary to step back for a moment and evaluate my own expectations before I go insane.

Is this team a contender for a championship? Do we really need them to make the playoffs? Where does Swaggy-P’s irrational confidence end? Did Jrue Holiday just do another point-guardy thing? All of this and more comin’ atcha!

Are the Philadelphia 76ers championship contenders this season?

(Having a healthy chortle to myself) Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean they are the most horrible thing in the world either.

This week, the 76ers gave all Philly sports fans something new to freak out about when they announced that Andrew Bynum will most likely not be playing basketball until January (at the earliest). As devastating as that may feel, it actually isn’t that big a deal for two reasons.

First, it’s unclear whether or not Andrew Bynum actually exists. Think about it, have you ever seen him play?

Second, this isn’t a championship roster with the big man in the lineup anyway.This season is about development and as ugly as the Philadelphia 76ers have looked in their first three losses of the 2012-2013 season, there are some very positive things developing in Andrew Bynum’s absence.

Jrue Holiday looks very promising at point-guard. He’s not Chris Paul, but he certainly looks like he plays the same position on the court – which was absolutely not the case in the eyes of basketball dummies like myself last season.

Another positive, for me is that Spencer Hawes doesn’t look awful. If you sort of squint and catch him in your peripherals, he actually looks pretty darn good at basketball. Also, that whole Doug Collins “power forward” idea looks like it might be nothing more than a pipe dream, which is good news for most reasonable Sixers fans. I, however, still hold out hope for this. I mean, is Spencer Hawes really that different from Pau Gasol? They’re both white. They’re both tall and can shoot sometimes.

The next positive is that Nick Young’s contract is a one-year deal. I don’t think there’s ever been a player more consistently likely to make it onto Sportscenter without playing well. When he retires, the Not-Top-10 Hall of Fame is going to be calling about that jersey.

To circle back, it is not realistic to expect this team to contend for a championship this season.

What are some “realistic” goals for this team, then?

That’s a great question. You have a lot of great questions.

Well, as I’ve mentioned before, seeing Jrue Holiday develop as a true point guard is seminal to the long-term success of the team. Next, it is important that Doug Collins proves emphatically, that Evan Turner can’t play. Mere embers remain of the once vibrant flame that was “Team Evan.” If we’re going to move forward as a fan base, he needs as much playing time as possible in order to stamp that out.

Finally, and most importantly, Andrew Bynum needs to get healthy and feel good about playing for Sixers; good enough to re-sign in the off-season. Bynum is the reason a total rebuild wasn’t necessary for this team and without that component, it’s back to the drawing board. In order to keep him here, the organization needs to show him that they care about his health and success. In being so careful with the big fella, they have been attempting to do just that. The next step in that process is making him feel comfortable with the long-term players on this team. It’s on Doug Collins to make sure that, once Andrew Bynum is able to play, he finds success.

You may have noticed that I did not include a specific number of “wins” required for this season to be considered a success. That’s because, in this case, the win total for this year’s 76ers is almost completely irrelevant. I know that’s not what most people want to hear, but if you’ve been paying attention, you know that there is plenty to root for regarding this team aside from victory on the scoreboard. The 76ers are building something here. The walls aren’t painted, there’s no electricity and the carpet guy hasn’t been out yet, but there’s a definite plan here; which is more than we could say for the past twelve years.

If all goes well, what will it take to finally make this team a title contender?

The way things work in the NBA, even if everything the 76ers need to happen does this year, the team is going to need to find a second “star” player; an effective scoring option to pair with Andrew Bynum. This is much easier said than done, but if Bynum proves to be what we all hope he will for the Sixers, Philly will certainly be a more attractive destination for free agents than it has been. Still, regarding the second “star” player, it’s better to take the long view and plan for that at least two years from now. I conferred with an expert analyst on the matter and this year’s options don’t seem viable to him.

Me: Hey Spike, do you think Chris Paul would be somebody the 76ers are interested in this off-season?

Me: (heartbroken but still defiantly hopeful) Hmm…well then how about a more realistic option? Maybe somebody like Josh Smith? He’s looked pretty good lately right?

Me: Oh…well okay… =(

The underlying point to all of this micro-managing of expectations is to avoid a trap that Philadelphia fans seem to fall into more often, and with greater ease than anyone else. That trap is thinking that a team that loses; that has no shot to win a championship isn’t worth your time. As I’ve said, there will be a TON to root for regarding the 2012-2013 Philadelphia 76ers. At times, they will even be fun to watch (maybe). They will have their ups and downs, but through it all, we can keep our eyes fixed on the light at the end of the tunnel — just like a college student. It’s like we’re in 76ers college and when we graduate, instead of a degree, we get a good basketball team…or something.

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The Philly Five Power Rankings – Iggy, Iggy, Iggy, Can’t You See…

The state of Philadelphia sports was bleak this past week, at least for the Flyers and Phillies. But on the bright side the Sixers pulled off a sweet, sweet Round 1 upset of the  Bulls (now bring on the Celtics!).

For the Phillies it was ugly: They blew leads to the Nationals and Mets, lost five of six, couldn’t put up runs and let a games slip away with a poor bullpen performance and poor late game hitting and fielding.

For the Flyers it was uglier: The Flyers got eliminated from the playoffs, losing four straight to the Devils. And they looked sluggish and sloppy most of the game.

But we’re optimists here at SpikeEskin.com, so let’s try to look on the bright side of a really crappy sports week in Philadelphia… Yo, The Sixers!  Tuesday night’s loss in Game 5 was tough to watch. It was a slow paced game, and the Sixers really never seemed like they were going to pull it off, and they didn’t. But last night, Game 6, they jumped out to a nice 12 point lead, then gave it all back, and just when we thought the season would fall apart, Iggy got it done. So naturally he gets #1…

Philly Five for May 4-10, 2012:

1) Andre Iguodala – Well, well, well what do we have here? Game on the line, down one, two seconds left. And who is the guy with the ball? Mr. Andre Iguodala. Yeah, who would have thought that he would be the guy to grab a victory from the jaws of defeat and get the Sixers onto the second round?

Iggy has had a rough season, to say the least. Yeah, he made the All-Star team, but his hometown fans were never really happy with his performance. His 4th quarter stats were terrible (I’m not looking them up because they don’t matter any more). But he played shut down D. And he did that in this series too.

Game 6: 20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds (including the HUGE rebound on Asik’s missed FT) and the two biggest foul shots of his career. Great week for the Sixers, capped off by an great night for Iggy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vArNWGoHPk

2) Cole Hamels – Not many bright spots this week for the hometown 9, but for one night baseball in Philadelphia was fun again. Hamels pitched a gem, the Phillies got out of Nats Park without getting swept and we threw some gasoline on a budding rivalry in the process.

This is definitely NOT old school

But the big story from that game was Hamels hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch, square in the back. At first we were all thinking, “wait, that wasn’t on purpose, right? Had to have slipped.” But after the game Cole left no doubt as to his intentions to plunk Harper and show him an old school ‘Welcome to the Show’ greeting.

My only issue with the Hamels situation is not that he threw at Harper (it’s part of the game), nor that he admitted it (dumb, but whatever), it’s that he threw at a kid who was 0-7 in the series. Who really hadn’t done anything to warrant it. Did he throw at him beacusae he wanted to show him who was the boss of the division? Well, maybe Cole hasn’t looked at the standings, but we’re pulling up the rear and Washington is riding young arms and hot bats to 1st place.

Cole lit a spark with the fans, and we needed something to fire us up, so I appreciate that. But Spike had a good angle about this, did Cole do it just to get more cash on the free agent market. Was it a ‘hey look at me, I have fire in my belly’ move? Who knows. Not surprisingly Cole got suspended 5 games (really not even missing a start), and we see the Nats again in 2 weeks. The baseball world will be watching that series closely.

3) Evan Turner/Jrue Holiday – I like what I’ve seen so far from the young backcourt in this series. Turner and Holliday are looking like they could have a promising future for the Sixers. There are alot of questions about what will happen in the off-season and I expect the front office to shake things up, but what happens? What about Brand? Lou Williams is gonna get paid in free agency, will we give him enough to keep him?

Evan and Jrue. #ShowYaLuv

I don’t know what will happen, but I sure hope that Jrue and Turner are here to stay. Let them grow together, let them compliment each other games. Turner as the bulldog, driving the lane, grabbing the boards, getting scrappy. Holiday the point man, dishing the rock, taking the long jumpers, making things happen.

It has been a rocky season for Turner. He spent a good part of it in Doug Collins’ doghouse, but there were definitely times when you could see that he was a special player. I like how he takes the ball to the hoop without fear. I like how he got into the mix in that scrum in Game 5. I like that he isn’t afraid to take the shot. At the beginning of the season I was skeptical. But not anymore, I’m on #TeamET. Hopefully he can bounce back from a tough night in Game 5 and get us to Round 2.

Holiday showed me in Game 4 that he isn’t afraid to be the man and take the shots. He had a terrible start to the game, 1-14 shooting? Ouch. But he kept shooting, ending the game on a 6-9 streak including two huuuuge threes at the end to give a nice 7 point cushion.

I’m not saying they’ll be the second coming of Mo Cheeks and Andrew Toney, but knocking out the Bulls will be a nice start to this tandem’s bright future.

Photoshop by @_mattmac (cross promotion FTW!)

4) Joe Blanton – We have 3 aces in the rotation… and then we have Blanton. Over the last few years Blanton has been the butt of many jokes, he was left out of the “4 Aces” talk last year and is pretty much the forgotten member of the rotation. Seems like people have more good things to say about young Vance Worley. But Blanton is a solid pitcher. He’s not gonna win a Cy Young and he’s gonna have some stinkers. But once in a while he’s gonna toss a gem. And that’s just what he on Thursday at Atlanta.

Heavy B tossed a complete game, three hitter in a 4-0 win over the Braves. Then he comes back on Monday and goes 6.2 innings, 5 hits, 4 earned runs. He left the game in the seventh with two out, men on first and second and a 4-2 lead. Then Chad Qualls came in and did Chad Qualls things and suddenly it’s 5-4 Mets. Can’t fault Joe, he gave us 2 solid starts this week and for the #4 man in the rotation, that’s pretty good. Hopefully he can keep it up, God knows we can use all the help we can get.

5) Ilya Bryzgalov – The Flyers dropped 4 straight to the Devils to lose in the second round. But you know what, I’m not pinning it on Bryz. The Flyers looked flat and unmotivated for most of the series.

Yes, Bryz gave up a soft goal (it was pretty much as close to an ‘own goal’ as you can get without shooting it in yourself) in Game 5 that gave the Devils a 2-1 lead that they never lost, but if you’re pointing fingers you might want to point at everyone except the goalie.

Ilya and Danny, in happier times.

We can whine all we want at Claude Giroux getting suspended, and how other players did worse things and got nothing, and that Giroux has no history of anything like that, etc. But he made a dumb play in a critical game, and he got himself suspended. And the Flyers lost. I don’t know if X would have been the difference maker in Game 5, but not having your best player available is never a good thing (ask the Bulls).

The Game 3 OT winner wasn’t Bryzgalov’s fault, we had a bad line change and New Jersey took advantage and got a great scoring opportunity. And Bryz was great in Sunday’s loss in Game 4 (42 shots on goal!). He was ok in Game 5, I would have expected more in a clinching game, but it was a team effort (or lack of effort) that cost us. The bigger issue was the defense around him.

Honestly, I wanted to have someone represent the Flyers in the Philly Five this week, and Bryz was the lone bright spot I could fine. So he didn’t really have alot of competition.

But not everyone agrees with me, this guy at Hockey News actually wrote that Bryz was the 3rd worst playoff goalie in Flyers history (Roman Cechmanek was #1? Wow, blast from the past).

And we have him locked up for 8 more years, so love him or hate him, he’s probably here to stay.

The Gasface:

999) Phillies Sell-Out Streak – So the Phillies managed 3 sellouts against the Mets but every night there was a buzz on Twitter, “does the streak end tonight?”, “no way they fill it in the rain against the Mets”. But you know what? The streak continues. 233 straight sellout at home, including postseason.

But c’mon, let’s be real.  These games aren’t sellouts. We need some scrappy investigative reporter to dig into this caper. The Red Sox claim a sellout streak of over 700 games, but the folks up in Boston had had enough and did their own investigation last week and found out it was a bunch of PR garbage. Maybe we need to do the same here.

The issue with announcing the streak is over is that the media and the fans will say “well, we were fairweather fans, now we’re losing and the city doesn’t care anymore.” But that’s not true. I’ve been to many games over the past few years when the 400 level seats were half full. Does the team buy the few hundred or so extra tickets and dump them on StubHub? Do they do what the Red Sox do and count tickets given to charity as part of the sell out. I don’t know.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal, but the longer the team perpetuates a lie the worse they’re gonna look when the truth comes out.

(and yes, I could have given the Gas Face to the Phillies bullpen, but I did that last week. And something tells me we’ll have alot of opportunity to do it for the rest of the season).

Do you agree with the Five this week? Disagree? Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@Fantasource).

See you all next week!

You can follow me on Twitter (@Fantasource) or email (fantasource@gmail.com)

Fantasource

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Is Doug Collins Doing This Wrong? (From CBS Philly)

This was going to be your run of the mill “here’s the grade I give the Sixers at the midway point of the season” post. I’d run through each player, grade their performance with a letter between A-F, and inspire some discussion about whether I’m being too easy or too hard on them.

Jodie Meeks gets a B?! He’s killing us!

Iguodala an A-?! He can’t even shoot free throws!

It’d be so much fun for all of us.

But I can’t do it. I can’t do it because I don’t know what scale I’m grading them on, and that’s part of the problem with this year’s Sixers.

READ THE REST HERE

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Sixers vs. Jazz 12.30.11 Prediction Thread

I don’t want to brag or anything, but I did predict the exact number of points the Sixers would score against the Suns. I guess I did mean to brag. I guess that means I’m bragging about being lucky. Whatever.

A win again the Jazz would be pretty big tonight, because it’ll prevent a let-down against Golden State from ruining the road trip. NBA teams aren’t very good in back-to-back games on the road, and that’s what the Golden State game is.

Coming back to Philly 3-2 would be a good thing, especially when you consider they won three games in their first 16 last year. 4-1 would be great, but 3-2 would be good.

The Jazz are pretty big up front, but they’re still not very good. I’ll go with the Sixers taking this one 98-91.

Give me yours.

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OMG! BASKETBALL! Sixers Season Is Finally Here, This Is How It’ll Play Out (Maybe)

I’ll admit it, I was worried for a little bit there. I always held firm that I thought we’d have NBA basketball this season, but around mid-November the outlook was pretty grim. If you made me bet my worldly posessions, I still would have bet that basketball would happen, but I’d have been pretty nervous about it. Especially to lose my Jrue Holiday bank.

Lockout, smockout, none of that matters, because on Sunday, the 2011-12 NBA (mostly 2012) season begins, and I’ll officially have something to do this winter. If “watching lots of basketball” counts as “something to do.”

I love watching pretty much any NBA basketball game (even a random Golden State vs. Utah game on League Pass), but I watch every Sixers game. Last season, that was a pretty enjoyable experience. A lot of times it was a very enjoyable experience, and a welcome change. It wasn’t a championship year, but there was growth, and I was proud to be a Sixers fan. They weren’t perfect, but they’re ours.

But with improvement and growth comes expectation, and that’s where we are, expecting something. The question is, “what can we expect?”

The bar is set higher, for the coach, for the fans, and for the rest of the league. The Sixers will not be sneaking up on anyone this year. Michael Wilbon even predicted that they’d win the Atlantic Division, and many people think they’ll fall in the 4-5 seed range come playoff time.

So what’s going to happen this season? Well your guess is as good as mine (maybe better). That said, here’s mine:

The Path

There are many people who have suggested the best thing for the Sixers to do this season would be to a) trade Andre Iguodala and b) either trade or amnesty Elton Brand. By doing this you would a) clear cap space (if not now then at the end of the season and b) give the younger players room to grow. You would also a) probably make the team significantly worse and then b) get a better draft pick in a deep draft.

I don’t discount that this is an option and a legitimate one, however, it’s not one I agree with. Not now anyway. I am behind what the Sixers want to try to accomplish this season.

The Sixers want to create a good team, with young, promising players who show growth. They want to create an atomosphere that a big time free-agent would want to be a part of, or a big time player would be willing to sign an extention in after a trade. This is the plan, and I’m behind it.

I think it’s worth trying to see if Evan Turner and Iguodala can play together productively. I want to see if Turner can play shooting guard while Iguodala plays small forward and Jrue plays the point. It’s worth a shot. This whole path thing comes down to whether you believe that this is worth a shot. I do, because Andre Iguodala is very good, even if he’s not the kind of player they sold you.

Free Boosie

Andre Iguodala is a very good basketball player. He’s probably the best wing defender in the NBA, and offensively is well rounded. He isn’t a dominant scorer, but he’s never going to be, and it’s not worth discussing why you want him to be. No matter how many times you talk about his contract or why he doesn’t score 20+ a game, it doesn’t change who he is. Who he is, is a very good basketball player. I don’t think you’re going to get value in a trade, and I don’t want to trade him for cap space. Not without giving this a try first.

If you’re following this plan, it makes sense for Elton Brand to be on the team this year. You don’t have a power forward behind him who you’re dying to give minutes to, and the Sixers are without question a worse team without Brand in the lineup (he led the team in scoring and rebounding last year). In addition to his steady play on the court, he’s clearly taken on the “veteran leader” role on the team. If next year, Brand becomes the guy you amnesty to sign a big free-agent, or the expiring contract you trade for a big time player, then that’s what you do. But moving him this year doesn’t help you at all. Plus, I love watching that mid-range jumper. Dude, it never even touches the rim.

The final reason for continuing down this path is that Doug Collins is your coach. If he’s going to be your guy, then I just don’t think taking that “step back” is a path that’s going to be condusive to his style. The year to do that would have been last year. Collins has historically improved teams for the first two seasons he coached (we won’t talk about what generally happens the third year). If you make the team worse this year for the sake of youth and trade away two of his favorites in the process, I think Collins’ head explodes.

Not to mention, I’m pretty sure the new Sixers owners don’t want to suck the first year. Just a guess. After seeing what rebuilding looks like in Washington DC, I can’t imagine that’s a product they’re going to want to market. With or without Hip Hop. Basketball that sucks looks like it sucks even under awesome lights, for cheap tickets.

So that said; what happens this year? Well, I guess I’m in a similar boat as everyone else.

Record And Playoff Position

I’m going to go ahead and say the Sixers finish with a 37-29 record (I originally had 36-30 until @danrosz called me names on Twitter), and put themselves in a position to finish the year solidly around the 5th seed, with an opportunity to grab the 4th and home court for the first round.

This season is pretty hard to predict, because of the cramped schedule. Conventional wisdom has the Sixers young legs and consistency being of value. I see the logic in it. I don’t know if that’s how it’ll work out, but I definitely buy into the logic. The Sixers have an opportunity for a quick start, and they need to take it to have that shot at the #4 or #5 seed.

As I mentioned, there have been a few people who have predicted the Sixers could win the Atlantic Division. Again, that pesky logic tells us that the Celtics will just try to coast through the regular season (because they’re old), and the Knicks will take a while to gel (because of the new players). Both fair conclusions to jump to, but be aware, it is jumping. It’s as possible that the Sixers finish third in the Atlantic as it is first.

Individual Players

Before last season, my guess was that Jrue Holiday had a chance to be very good, but probably shouldn’t be the best player on a very good team if you want to contend. That ceiling was echoed by many. I’ve changed my mind though, and I think the ceiling is higher. Jrue Holiday can be one of the very best point guards in the NBA. I truly believe we’ve underestimated his ceiling.

One of the reasons Jrue Holiday can be so great, is the same reason that people discount him; he plays in the pocket. Holiday doesn’t run as fast as he can to get from point A to point B. Remember in that first pre-season game when Wall went coast to coast, outrunning everyone and dunking the ball? Well the Sixers were up by 40 at that point, a lot of it was because of Holiday. He doesn’t shoot too much (maybe not enough) and he’s not really flashy. But he is really, really good at basketball. He’s got fantastic basketball sense. He’s able to go really, really fast, but he waits until he’s lulled the opposing defender to sleep to do it. By the time he’s kicked it into that extra gear, he’s already by you or the three is already in the air. He’s shown the ability to take and make big shots at big spots.

Jrue Holiday was much better in year two than he was in year one, and he’s going to be much better in year three than he was in year two. And here’s the scary part; he will probably get better again in year four. Jrue Holiday is going to be really, really good and Philadelphia is going to love watching him play.

That step that Holiday took in year two, I think Evan Turner will take in his year two as well. With a quicker, smoother (although still imperfect) jump shot, more confidence and a better sense of who he needs to be, Turner’s got chance to surprise a lot of people this season. You can already see it. Everything about his game that we’ve seen so far this year is more deliberate.

And Evan Turner’s just got it. He wants to win and he wants to kill the other team and he wants to be the guy to hold the sword. It’s great to have talent, but there are plenty of guys with all the talent in the world who don’t have it. Turner showed it in college, and we saw flashes of it during the series against Miami. I even remember a the season opener, when he did this to Dwyane Wade, tweeting that “Evan Turner is going to be just fine.”

Whether he starts or not, we’re going to see a lot of good things from Turner this year.

Andre Iguodala just seems different now. Maybe it’s a judgment based on not enough information, but he seems more at ease. I mean, he came to the End Of Lockout party and took pictures with #FreeBoosie shirts. He just seems more confident. Maybe the new owners and the march to change mascots and lower ticket prices has taken some of the weight off of his sholders. Maybe having the same coach two years in a row, and a coach who knows what Iguodala does best has added confidence. Maybe even the thought that “hey, maybe Jrue or Evan are really ok to take that last shot” is something he wants, because he’s sick of getting blamed for not hitting those shots. It’s fun to be the guy they put on the posters and the commercials, but it’s a lot of pressure too. Maybe he’s more relaxed because this role suits him better. You have to imagine a more relaxed, healthier, more confident Iguodala gives us a better Iguodala. I’m hoping the “keep Iguodala” experiment works.

Elton Brand at some point I imagine is no longer going to be a Sixer. I guess somehow it could work out that he plays out his contract here and signs for significantly less, but I doubt that. I’m sad about that, because he’s really turned it around and  become a player I love watching. Brand works hard, plays well, and brings it every night. A player who was once a symbol in this town of a “bad contract” has become a leader and a stand-up guy, he’s really turned it around. I think we’ll see more out of Brand that we saw last year, which is very good. H

Lou Williams has finally found the role that suits him best. Lou Williams is a sixth man. He’s good at being a sixth man. He’ll still take some shots that will make you go “ugh,” but let’s hope he makes enough of them to make us forget the ones he misses. Playing with Turner will help, because you’ve got to assume Turner will be the one getting us into the offense, and assuming more of the point guard type duties. Although his true shooting percentage told a better story than his 40% from the field last season, I’d still love to see that around 44%-45%.

I Wish Thad Hit HIm

Thaddeus Young looks like he’s found the role that suits him best too, also a sixth (seventh?) man. With the contract situation behind him, let’s hope he can now start to improve certain individual skills like his jump shot. Thaddeus Young with a mid-range jump shot is going to be a nightmare to guard. He’ll be worth every penny of that new contract, and depending on the future situation at center, I could see him starting at the power forward spot if Brand isn’t here next year.

Spencer Hawes … let’s just hope he stays in shape, gets to the line a little more (a lot more), and doesn’t take any three point shots. If he does those things, I’ll deal with his complaining about the refs and right-wing Twitter nonsense. I’m not his biggest advocate, but at his best, he’ll do for now.

Jodie Meeks, just continue being Jodie Meeks. I don’t think he’s ever going to be very good at the things he isn’t good at now. To me, Meeks becomes better by becoming even better at the things he’s good at … well the thing he’s good at. Shooting three point shots. He was streaky and good last year, but I’d love to see him become a killer.

The other guys, Vucevic, Brackins, et al … I’ve got no idea. That Brackins three-point shot looked pretty killer during that first Washington game. If there’s a chance, I’d love to see more of it.

The Conference

I see it shaking out something like this:

1. Miami

2. Chicago

3. New York

4. Philadelphia

5. Boston

6. Indiana

7. Atlanta

8. Orlando (falls apart post-Dwight, but has enough wins to keep them in the playoffs)

And I’ll say the young, upstart, Sixers beat Boston in the first round, and lose in the second round. It’s kind of hard to say the Sixers can definitely win, or definitely not win the first round without knowing who they play. So few games separated 1-2-3 and then so few separated 5-6-7-8 last year, that’s a real toss up.

I think the Holiday/Turner/Iguodala thing works at and the Sixers try to figure out a way to make a move for a bigger name in the offseason. I’m not sure who, or if it’ll work, but I believe they’ll try.

I also don’t think anyone is getting past Miami. Heard that before right? Well, I mean, no one in the conference got past them last year, and I think they’ll be better this year than last.

And Finally

For the first time in a long time, we’ve got hope, and there’s a little bit of a buzz in town about Sixers basketball. It’s good to see.

I hope to see you at the games this year. Last year was fun, but this year can be even more fun. And you don’t have to worry about everyone being bombed by the time the game starts like Phillies or Eagles games.

Kate Fagan writes a good (though a little less rosy) prediction and explanation HERE. She is still on Twitter and writing about the Sixers, though now has the handle @katefagan3. 

If you want tickets, my season ticket guy is Kevin, and you can find him on Twitter @76ersTixRep. He’s a good dude.

#FREEBOOSIE (www.freeboosie.org)

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Time’s Yours Podcast: Talking Sixers With Bob Cooney

 

I’m very appreciate of the Sixers writers in Philadelphia for putting up with me. One of those who puts up with me the most and best is Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News.

With training camp opening tomorrow (YES!), I talked to Bob today about the following:

*What will the Sixers lineup be on opening night?

*Will the Sixers sign anyone or trade anyone of note?

*What is the goal of this season for the team?

*Where can the Sixers finish in the Eastern Conference?

*Is Bob on team #FreeMoosie.

Follow Bob on Twitter @BobCooney76, and read him in the Daily News.

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The List Of Things I’m Excited To See This Sixers Season

As you may well know, I’m a pretty big NBA fan, and a bigger Sixers fan. Last year was a dream, particularly after the season that came before it (I still dislike you Eddie Jordan).

December 9th (and then whenever the Sixers opener is) can’t get here soon enough.

And though last season ended with a loss, I’ll remember it for this shot:

* I’m excited to see Evan Turner’s jump shot.

* I’m excited to see Thad Young’s monster dunk on a fast break.

* I’m excited to see Lou Williams take a big shot that makes me say “oh no, what the FU … YES! YES! IT WENT IN!” (see video above)

* I’m excited to yell “Free Boosie” every time Mo Speights gets on the floor.

* I’m excited to see Andre Iguodala grab a rebound in the last minute of a game to complete a signature 11-10-10 triple double.

* I’m excited to see Doug Collins soaked in sweat during a post-game press conference as if he actually called a game.

* I’m excited to hear Tom McGinnis go absolutely apeshit over something that’s not really that big a deal.

* I’m excited to watch Elton Brand get three straight offensive rebounds and finally hit the shot with the foul. As well as seeing a hundred sweet Brand jumpers from 16 feet.

* I’m excited to hear Marc Zumoff bite his tongue when Eric Snow says something that doesn’t make sense or falls asleep.

* I’m going to catch a hot dog.

* Bothering Marshall Harris about who the evening’s stand-out star is going to be.

* I’m excited to watch Jrue Holiday do the “raise the roof” thing after a big shot, because he’s too young to know when it was popular the first time. Maybe like the shot he hit at the 2:51 mark of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p0fpqnuUpc

* I’m excited to watch Jodie Meeks go off for 19 points in a random quarter, while I tweet “M33KS!” every time he hits a three.

* I’m excited to watch Spencer Hawes take an ill-advised three point shot in playoffs against the Heat that raises my rage level to Incredible Hulk levels. Wait, no, sorry, I’m not excited for that. Bad memory. What was he doing? Dude, you’re seven feet tall, go get a rebound and let Meeks shoot the threes.

* I’m excited to see that bald guy in the ridiculous sweaters who sits courtside.

* I’m excited for endless emails to Bob Cooney and Kate Fagan. As they put up with me, just because they know I mean well.

* I’m excited for the Sixers to beat a team they shouldn’t, followed by me screaming at the visiting team’s fans to get the f*ck out of the Wells Fargo Center.

* I’m pretty excited to boo Kobe Bryant.

* I’m excited to watch a team I know will work hard every game, get better, and make me proud to be a Philadelphia fan.

* The 5 seed (let me dream)

* Yelling “overrated” at Carmelo Anthony.

* Seeing the new mascot, so everyone can stop acting like it matters.

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Of All Days, Why Am I Aching For The Sixers Today?

The Phillies are hours from a deciding Game 5 against the Cardinals. The Eagles are playing the first of many “must-win” games on Sunday. The new-look Flyers debuted last night and beat the Stanley Cup champs on their home ice. And I’m sitting here bummed about the NBA lockout. What a sucker.

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