Sunday, January 15, 2006

TODAVIA HAY ESPERANZA...THERE'S STILL SOME HOPE...

Los 76ers son el equipo que mas puntos anota en la liga, tienen el power forward que mejores numeros tiene en el este, tienen el lider en tapones de la liga, tienen el mejor tirador de 3 en la liga, estan segundos en menos turnovers en la liga, oh...y la ultima vez que verifiqué... todavia tienen a Allen Iverson....No pierdan esperanzas todavia queda mas de la mitad de la temporada.
Leanse este articulo por Steven "el bocon" A. Smith.
Stephen A. Smith Sixers must correct flaws before they become fatal
By Stephen A. Smith
Inquirer Columnist
To some, Allen Iverson is an assassin without a sniper's rifle. A winner, a true champion, devoid of the requisite hardware to validate this worth.
After all these years he's still the mercurial 6-foot star, the offensive juggernaut capable of leading the league in scoring virtually anytime he feels like it. And if that were enough to transform his frustrations, and those of this city, into a celebration rife with confetti and celebratory speeches sometime in June, perhaps we would care just a little bit more than we do.
Except 76ers fans don't care. At least not now, not as much as they would if they knew this team had a legitimate shot at competing for an Eastern Conference crown this season.
A .500 record will sour most moods in the midst of a season once alive with hope and expectations. And so will a defense recognized as one of the league's worst.
Even in the aftermath of a thrilling 125-124 triple-overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday night, accentuated by stellar performances from Iverson and Chris Webber and a game-saving trey by Kyle Korver, you can't help but notice what Iverson needs to do - instead of what he's done.
It's fine that Iverson is averaging 33.7 points per game. That his 45.6 shooting percentage from the field is his best since 1997-98, his first season under the tutelage of Larry Brown. But what he did at halftime of Friday night's game, motivating his team after it surrendered 65 points in the first half, is what he'll need to do more of if this team is going to achieve any success this season.
"I told them we had to play defense," Iverson said following Friday night's win at the Wachovia Center. "That it would start with me pressuring the ball up the floor, trying to lead by example."
Whether he clapped, spewed profanity, or slapped some teammates upside the head is not something we're aware of. But considering the way both Iverson and the Sixers have played defense this season, no one could blame him if he did.
Talent-wise, this Sixers team should be able to compete with any team in the East, outside of Miami and Detroit.
Iverson is Iverson. Webber barely has any legs left, but his 19.8 points per game and 10.3 rebounds prove he's still one of the most intelligent players in the game. Plus C-Webb deserves a boatload of credit for chugging out 40 minutes a night.
Korver is one of the best pure shooters in the game. Samuel Dalembert (seven blocks on Friday) continues to prove he's one of the premier shot-blockers in the game. When focused, Andre Iguodala is a flat-out stud, capable of being a star. And the Sixers' bench, if nothing else, is committed to giving a strenuous effort.
Those ingredients, along with having a coach in Maurice Cheeks who spurs no threats of mutiny, should swell into something productive.
Except, obviously, they haven't.
When you're surrendering 102.9 points per game and 46 percent shooting, how can anyone expect anything from you? Team president Billy King can put on sweats and average 30 a night against these Sixers.
"There's no question our defense has not been good," King said before Friday night's game. "I can't even deny it. It's not one, two or three guys. It's every single person on this team. For some reason, we just haven't played anywhere near good defense for a vast majority of this season."
Everyone knows Cheeks tried earlier in the week when he held a team meeting. Some may not know that in that meeting, when asked to speak up, guys such as Kevin Ollie and Matt Barnes, according to sources, opened their mouths to speak before anyone else had the courage to do so. They claimed Cheeks needed to have more faith in his bench, as he did earlier in the season, and vowed the team's defensive intensity would improve.
That was validated on Friday at one point, when Cheeks actually had Iguodala in the lineup with Ollie, John Salmons, Michael Bradley and Shavlik Randolph, providing Iverson, Webber and Korver with what would prove to be necessary rest.
Call it Step 1.
Step 2 involves Iverson recognizing that the trio of himself, Webber and Korver average just a little more than six fouls per game combined, which means whatever defense they're playing isn't good enough, and something needs to be done about it.
Now. Preferably while Iverson is still a candidate for league MVP. While he's in a position to lead the league in scoring again. Before the Sixers are officially on the outside looking in once more, having refused to do something fundamental, something they're fully capable of, with everyone wondering why they didn't.

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