Maurice Cheeks has plenty of work to do.
As talented as his revamped roster in Philadelphia may be, the Sixers simply have to play smarter basketball, particularly in their halfcourt offensive sets.
This was particularly well evidenced last night in Philly's 10-point loss in Orlando. While the Magic deserve plenty of credit for tightening their interior defense, the Sixers' shot selection was putrid, especially in the fourth quarter.
With 16 points, 11 boards and 8 assists, Andre Iguodala's overall stat line wasn't too bad. But not only did he shoot 4-for-12, he also took a couple of ghastly shots from the perimeter. Shots that didn't come close to the basket. Shots that shouldn't have been taken by a guy who still has yet to establish all that much range on his jumper.
Point guard Andre Miller didn't help the starting backcourt's shooting percentage as he went 7-for-24. He had his share of occasions on which he picked up his dribble and tried to force an off-balance shot around a defender rather than pulling the ball out and resetting the offense with a pass back to the top of the circles.
Elton Brand only took eight shots (hitting just three of them), but his problems went beyond shot selection. The Magic did an effective job of sending double-teams and traps down low, and the Sixers failed to adjust at all. The perimeter players did a poor job of sliding to open spots, and Brand had a very difficult time getting the ball out of double-teams, leading to valuable seconds burned on the shot clock and general offensive stagnation.
Bad shooting nights happen in this league, and the Sixers won't shoot 37.9 percent on a nightly basis, virtually no matter what they do. But it isn't so much the poor shooting that likely irks the Philly faithful as much as it is the shots that were being taken. They weren't good ones, and that comes down to decision-making on the floor. The Sixers need to improve theirs.
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