Friday, January 13, 2006

The Broken Futon, Triple OT, and Bill Walton

As a Philadelphia 76ers fan living in North Dakota, I don't get to see very many of their games. Therefore, when they do play on national TV, I make every effort to watch them, and tonight, thankfully, I did. I watched, and I watched, and then I watched some more, as the game went into triple OT.

And in the end, Philly pulled it off 125-124.

But not before a long game filled with 3 quarters of awful defense, lots of time watching the worst player in the NBA (more on that later) and close to 4 hours of Bill Walton. Here's some things I learned while watching the game:

- Allen Iverson has never played better - He's 30 years old, he's 6 feet tall, 160 pounds, and he gets consistently beat up more than any player in the NBA. But he's never played better. He finishes on the break, he's nearly impossible to stop 1-on-1 (although he was far less effective driving after he hurt his ankle in the 2nd quarter), and he's setting up his teammates better than ever. I wrote yesterday that LeBron is the best player in the NBA, and I still believe that, but I think AI is a top 3 MVP candidate.

- Philadelphia has the worst bench in the NBA which makes it all the more amazing that they are .500 right now. Consider that 2/5 of the starting lineup consists of a white guy that can only shoot and a guy playing 40 minutes a night on one leg... and they have 1 (one) reliable player off the bench, and that is John Salmons. Consider that in a triple OT game where one guy fouled out in the first OT, 2 bench player played over 10 minutes, and one of them was MICHAEL BRADLEY, who played for 14 minutes. No one else played more than 9. And they won. That is remarkable. On year ago Shavlik Randolph was the most underachieving player in college basketball. Now? He's playing over 9 minutes a game in the NBA.

- Philly's defense is just awful - Don't get me wrong, Andre Iguodala is a fantastic defensive player who was awesome tonight on Paul Pierce (4/20 FG, 18 points). Pierce got about one open look all night, and that was in the 1st quarter. AI2 was great defensively. Samuel Dalembert played very well defensively with 7 blocks, and John Salmons was solid in the 4th quarter and OT's on Ricky "Maybe we shouldn't leave him wide open for another 3" Davis. Other than that, it's not good. Allen Iverson is about average, and he's not changing. He takes a lot of risks, and this gets him into trouble. It's been this way his whole career. Kyle Korver, bless his soul, can't play defense. He's too slow. Chris Webber is playing on one leg. The guy is giving great effort and has been really good this year, but he's not a good defender at this point. As a team, it's not so hot. They don't rotate well, and they allow too much penetration. The good thing is, everyone knows they suck defensively and they're going to continue working on it.

- Delonte West is a lot better than I thought he was going to be - Coming out of St. Joe's, I thought Delonte West would be a decent guy off the bench, too small to play the 2 but not a good enough ballhandler to play the 1. But he really looked good tonight. He handled it well and made good decisions (3 TO in 46 minutes while being guarded by Allen Iverson. Impressive) He played pretty solid on-the-ball defense, and can hit the open shot. I was really impressed by him tonight.

- Only 14 minutes for Al Jefferson? I don't get it. Which leads me to my next point:

- Brian Scalabrine is the worst player in the NBA - And even worse, he looks the part. He played lots of crucial minutes tonight, and he really did absolutely nothing positive. Nothing. He even commited a foul on a jump ball. In 16 minutes he had 2 points and 2 rebounds, to go along with 3 fouls. Fortunately, Bill Simmons has given me his thoughts on Brian Scalabrine time and time again, in articles such as this, this, and this. Even as a Sixers fan, I felt sorry for Celtic fans having to put up with Brian "will this cheesy mustache make me look tougher?" Scalabrine (wait, no I didn't).

- There are way too many Timeouts - Does each team get 6 per OT period? That's what it seems like. Every 3-0 run in Overtime gets a timeout called, as well as the required 2 by each team in the final minute. It was almost painful to watch.

- Much props to myself for making it through 3 OT of Bill Walton - As Bill Walton himself might say, "He is TERRIBLE!" He exaggerates everything, says absolutely nothing of value, and even called Paul Pierce's career "legendary" tonight. Now, Paul Pierce is an excellent player. But playing for a franchise with 16 NBA titles and 20 Hall-of-Famers, I think it's a wee bit of a stretch to call his career "Lengendary" after 1 Conference Finals appearance. On the other hand, Mike Breen is excellent. I love listening to games he commentates.

- There was a negative aspect to Kyle Korver's game-tying three at the end of OT #2 - And that was that I jumped off so high a bar on my futon broke. And I'm a skinny guy. What a shot!

And with that, one of the most exciting games I have seen in a long while, as well as one of the most excrutiating, having to sit through the performances of two tall redheads (yes, I'm looking at you Bill Walton and Brian Scalabrine). But in the end, it was worth it.

Too bad about the futon though.