It must have taken her hours to write that. Hours.
The Philadelphia 76ers: "If they're playing great, they're a better team, OK? If they're playing on top of their game, they're a better team. I mean, they won 58, we won 41. That doesn't mean that we aren't going to play and compete and fight. But when they come out tonight and defend the way they did...it's going to be very difficult for us to beat them."
That's what Doug Collins had to say last night after his Sixers got spanked by the cHeat in Miami. They couldn't do anything with LeBron James (29 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) or Chris Bosh (21 points, 9-for-13, 11 rebounds). And, hell, they made Joel "Hates by Heat Fans Everywhere" Anthony look like the second coming of Bill Russell:
The 76ers shot 34.2 percent from the field. Philadelphia has played 76 playoff games in the last 20 seasons and only had one where it shot worse -- 33.8 percent in 2008 against the Pistons.
The 76ers shot 20 percent from the field in the first quarter of Game 2, the lowest first quarter field goal percentage for any Heat opponent this season. Since trailing by 12 points after the first quarter of Game 1, Miami has stepped up its play on the defensive end.
The 76ers scored 13 points in the first quarter, their third lowest output in the first quarter of a playoff game over the last 15 years. Longtime Sixers great Allen Iverson scored 13 or more points in the first quarter in seven different playoff games with Philadelphia.
Part of Iguodala's struggle has been his inability to get out in transition, accumulating zero transition points in the first two games against the Heat. Overall, Philly has shot 41.7 percent in transition during the playoffs, down from 60.4 percent in the regular season. The Sixers have missed eight layups in transition over the first two games.
The 76ers finished the regular season ranking in the top 5 in transition offense and led the NBA in transition points per game at 17.9. The 76ers had plenty of opportunities on Saturday but were unable to convert. Nearly half (7) of the 76ers' transition plays came in the first quarter when Philly jumped out to a 12-point lead.
Doug Collins has brought his 3rd different team to the postseason and they've all suffered the same fate in Game 1. All three teams lost Game 1 and the previous 2 were eventually swept out of the playoffs.
You know what? I'm not a fan of Doug Collins as a coach. Don't get me wrong. He's actually a very good coach. Knows his Xs and Os. Gets his players to work and play hard. He can develop a bad team into a better one. The track record is there.
But he has some personality traits that bother me. His intensity wears down his players. He has trouble controlling his frustration. And he makes statements, like the quote above, that make you scratch your head.
You probably don't remember this, but early in the season, after a loss to the Cadavers, Collins said: "The hardest thing to teach a team is how to win. Not how to get close, but how to win, and that is what we are going to keep striving to do."
Really, Doug? Nobody on the Sixers ever won a game before you arrived? Look, I get what he was trying to say, but sometimes the manner in which he says things come off badly. Last night, his team got spanked, and Collins immediately declared that the other team was better.
My guys don't know how to win. The other team is better. Even if these things are true, they also sound likes the excuses of a frustrated man. And that kind of behavior can, and does, and has, alienated players. Go ahead and Google "Doug Collins-Otis Thorpe feud for further reading. Or, if you're more of a book person, check out The Jordan Rules and especially When Nothing Else Matters. During his stint in Washington, the way Collins kowtowed to Michael Jordan while ridiculing Kwame Brown for failing to live up to expectations was particularly vomit-inducing.
Look, I'm not saying Collins is a rotten guy or a bad coach, because neither is true. But he has some personality traits that make me wary of him. And they tend to come out of his mouth when things aren't going his way.
The Chicago Bulls and expectations: Last night, the Bulls beat the Pacers and took a 2-0 series lead...but you'd hardly know it. Chicago shot 38.6 percent from the field, gave up 26 points off 22 turnovers and needed yet another fourth quarter outburst from Derrick Rose to eke out a victory against the Pacers.
The Bulls won 62 games. The Pacers won 37. Why are these games close? Is the sky falling?! Hold me, mommy, hold me!!!
Look, the Bulls haven't played particularly well in the first two games and the Pacers are giving everything they have to give. But, unless I've forgotten how to count, Chicago has won 11 games in a row and 23 of their last 25. Everybody is so busy worrying about why they aren't winning by more that they seem to overlooking the fact that they aren't losing.
In Game 2, the Bulls shot poorly and were careless with the basketball. Furthermore, the Bench Mob, a vital part of their success all season, didn't provide their usual spark. They relied on defense (holding the Pacers to 90 points on 41 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers) and Derrick Rose (14 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter including 8 in the final five minutes). And in case you haven't been watching the Bulls this season, that describes many (if not most) of their victories.
The Pacers have succeeded in making this a very physical series, which is funny, because I wouldn't have considered them a physical team. They've turned the paint into a mosh pit and they're abusing Rose every time he drives to the cup. Maybe they're channeling the spirts of the 1991-92 New York Knicks. I don't know. But it's been working so far.
As for the Bulls, the expectations have gotten huge. Remember, many people (coughZachHarpercough) predicted that the Milwaukee Bucks would win the Central Division, you know? The Bulls managed to grind out a lot of wins through sheer effort, force of will, and Rose. But the fact remains, this is not the league's most talented team. The most focused and resilient, maybe, but not the most talented.
The bright side? People are going to be a lot more interested in watching Game 3 now.
The Los Angeles Clippers: I'd like to give a tip 'o my hat to ESPN, which reminded me that, on this day back in 1987, the Clippers suffered a 105-85 road loss to the Golden State Warriors, finishing the season with a record of 12-70...which was the second-worst single-season record in NBA history at that time.
Sure, their second-worst all-time status has since been usurped by the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks and the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets. But their historical ineptitude should still be remembered and cherished. Thank you, Clippers. You truly are who we thought you were.
Chris' Lacktion Ledger:
Sixers-Heat: Yep. LOL. Spencer Hawes is a STARTING BIG MAN on an Association playoff team. And in 12:31, despite a field goal, he took a rejection, turnover, and three fouls for a 4:2 Voskuhl.
Miami's Mike Miller made out with a +2 via foul and turnover in 3:15.
Pacers-Bulls: Omer Asik acquired a cart of steaks worth 1.8 trillion (1:47).