It was the perfect storm for the young team last night in Milwaukee. The night before the team played one of their best games of the season with a win over the eastern conference leading Boston Celtics. It was a huge win to show the upper echelon of the eastern conference that they can play with them. They had several close loses to Boston and other great teams during the season where they just couldn’t find a way to win it the final minutes. They went into Milwaukee last night physically and emotionally drained and they had to play their first of a 5 game road trip. On the other hand, the Bucks were a team that was well rested; it was their first game since Wednesday. Coach Collins said the 76ers played a “perfect” game against Boston Friday. I guess you could say there performance last night was the complete opposite.
There are two different ways you could try to explain the teams poor performance. You could say the team was physically drained after a tough game the night before or you could say that they are just an inconsistent team who will remind you have Jackal and Hyde from night to nigh. I’m going to go with the theory that they were tired. The 25-38 Bucks dominated the 76ers for 48 minutes. After their best win of the season, they lost by 28 points to team that will be watching the postseason from home. The 76ers only managed to shoot 39.7% from field and committed 20 turnovers. They seemed to lack the spark that we have seen from the team all year. You could definitely see that it was a night that they didn’t have the energy needed to win ballgame.
“Milwaukee was fresh. We weren’t and they beat us pretty good. Collectively I don’t think anybody would say we aren’t tired.” Said 76ers Guard Lou Williams “We’ve had a pretty rough stretch and tonight for whatever reason it caught up with us, but tomorrow will be a good day for us to relax and get ready for Monday.”
I have been a unapologetic supporter of the great job Coach Doug Collins has done this year. His knowledge for the game and coaching ability has made basketball exciting again in Philadelphia. He showed once again last night why he has the reputation he does. After playing a back to back he knew his starters wouldn’t be able to give him that much and he would have go a lot deeper into his bench. And after the Bucks went into half time with a 18 point lead, he knew his team didn’t have the energy to get back into the game. Instead of trying to burn his starters out, he went deeper into his bench in hopes they could provide some spark.
“I have been in the league 40 years,” Coach Collins said. “And I understand a night like this. That is why I wasn’t going to put guys out there for heavy minutes, it makes no sense.”
Jodie Meeks led the team in game action with 34:16 and he was the only starter to play more than 26 minutes. In recent games, Collins has been only giving about 9 players’ consistent minutes but last night he played 12 guys. He knows that every game you play is important but it’s not worth risking the long term health of few players just to win one game.
I truly believe that last night’s performance was just a blimp on the radar for Doug Collins team. This is a team that does lack a go to scorer and I think that is what truly separates them from being a championship contender. They have had a hard time closing games because their offense can go dormant against great defenses in the crunch time. But just because this team isn’t going to win the NBA title this season, it doesn’t mean I don’t think they can make some noise in the postseason.
I do doubt that they are talented and experienced enough to beat Boston, Miami and perhaps Chicago in a series. But they are a team that a lot of teams wouldn’t want to face. They play great defense, are well coached and have a great bench. Those are things that will help you win games in the playoffs. If they get a 1st round matchup with Orlando or Atlanta, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get past the first round. They have continually become a better basketball team as the season progresses, and they should only continue that trend as we head into the playoffs. But regardless of how the playoffs go for the 76ers, there is a bright future for this young team.