The Philadelphia 76ers fan base received some good news Monday, as it was announced that Jerry Colangelo, the Czar of USA Basketball, had agreed to become the team's new Chairman of Basketball Operations. Then they were reminded that the Sixers still had to play basketball games this season, and they were sad. The Spurs came into the game at the Wells Fargo Center leading the NBA in Defensive Efficiency, allowing just 92.8 points per 100 possessions, while the Sixers sport far and away the worst Offensive Rating in the NBA (92.0 per 100).
So what happens when an unstoppable force meets a very moveable object? A Spurs 119-68 victory, of course.
Gregg Popovich did his best to help Sixers coach and Spurs alumnus Brett Brown out by resting Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, as well as holding out Kawhi Leonard while he is dealing with a stomach bug. He even started Matt Bonner. Pop did his best to even the playing field, but it didn't really matter. Though the Sixers jumped out to an 11-7 lead five minutes into the first quarter, it was, like so many Sixers leads, not long for this world. Bonner was pulled in favor of Boris Diaw, and the Spurs went on a 30-8 run from there that spanned the remainder of the first quarter and into the second. When Bonner re-entered the game with 10:23 left in the second, the Spurs had a commanding 37-19 lead and never let up from there.
There is not a lot to glean from a dominant victory over an overmatched team, but I will give it a shot just the same.
Tony Parker is once again looking like a HOF point guard running a potential championship-level offense. He is now shooting 57.1% from the floor, which would be a career high, and he's getting to the basket much more effectively this season. His savvy on the offensive end can be downright spectacular at times, and he's beginning to exert his influence more and more on that end of the court. He looks healthy for the first time in a long time, and that bodes well for the Spurs.
Speaking of the Oui Frenchman, there looks to be some real chemistry brewing between Tony and LaMarcus Aldridge. There were several plays where Aldridge sealed his defender, leading to a Tony Parker pocket pass for an easy hoop. The pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop between those two is starting to develop as well, and even watching Diaw operate with the ball up top or at the elbow with LMA down low is a thing to behold. The more I watch LaMarcus play, the more I realize how good this offense can, and will, eventually be. (And for some frame of reference, the Spurs are currently third in the NBA in Offensive Efficiency. I don't believe they have scratched the surface of what they can become offensively, and that should scare the rest of the league.)
Danny Green only played 19 minutes in this game, and was 1-3 from the field (all 3s). The 33% shooting actually raised his field goal percentage, and quite frankly I wouldn't have minded if Pop had kept him out there for 40 minutes. I mean, at some point Danny is going to have to recover his shooting stroke, right? ... RIGHT?!?! This was the type of game where Pop should have just patted him on the butt and said, "Get out there and BE somebody!" Alas, games like these are few and far between, and we unfortunately don't play the Sixers again this season. So we all just have to hope Green can figure it out on his own.
We got a chance to see some extended run for guys like Jonathon Simmons and Ray McCallum, and while they were not overly impressive, any time spent on the court is positive. Simmons in particular was not looking for his jump shot, but it was good to see him attack the basket consistently. His athleticism is off-the-charts, and if he puts in the time to become an above-average shooter (or even an average shooter), the Spurs may have themselves something special. Boban Marjanovich, fresh off of hurting people's feelings in the D-League, had an inspiring 8-10 shooting night while showing off his surprisingly smooth mid-range jumper. Just like every mother wants her son to become a doctor, every basketball fan wants their team's center to be a 7'3 Serbian.
By the Numbers:
119-68: I was going through the play-by-play of this game to pick out all of the 10-0 runs, the 23-6 runs, the 12-2 runs, and then realized that the only run that mattered was the 119-68 run that the Spurs went on spanning the 12:00 mark of the first quarter to the 0:00 mark of the fourth quarter. The entire game was one big run.
+44: The Spurs margin when Matt Bonner was on the bench. The Red Rocket played 24 minutes, hit a three, and made a couple of his patented jump-push-hook shots, but the Spurs were only +7 when he was on the court. Just to extrapolate, the Spurs were +88 per-48-minutes when Bonner sat. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing.
53: The number of times I wondered why I was subjecting myself to watching a Sixers game. I do it for the people!
Your Three Stars of the Night:
LaMarcus Aldridge: LMA had 26 points on 11-15 shooting and threw in nine boards for good measure, all in just 22 minutes. To say the Sixers' big men were out-classed would be like saying water is wet.
Gregg Popovich: Give some old guys the night off? Check. Limit the minutes of the other starters? Check. Give the bench mob some burn? Check. Win the game? Check and check.
Sam Hinkie: Any conversation about the Sixers would be incomplete if we didn't acknowledge the stockpile of draft picks and cap space that Sam Hinkie is compiling. However, I noticed in the box score that the stockpile of draft picks and cap space went 0-0 with 0 minutes played on Monday. You keep doing you, Sam. Thanks for the win.