While the Phillies were busy smoking the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series, the Sixers were playing a game 1 of their own in Orlando.
The defending Eastern Conference Champions did their best Phillies impression last night. However, there are some positives to take out of the Sixers loss.
First off, anyone who watched the game last night saw that the Orlando Magic are just a machine. As Eddie Jordan said after the game “They are really, really good.” And he’s right, the Magic couldn’t have played a more perfect game. And saying it was perfect isn’t really stretching it. They shot over 55% from both the field and from beyond the arc. And their bench contributed with a totally of 48 points, not too shabby right?
Now, I’m not going to try and sell you on the fact that the Sixers played a great game. Though, they did not play nearly as bad as the score may have indicated. They weathered the storm fairly well early, trailing by only 2 at the end of the 1st quarter, while actually leading for a short time.
The Magic did a fantastic job on the defensive end making Andre Iguodala a non-factor. One promising thing to come from that was the contribution of Marreese Speights, who scored a career high 26 points , going 10-11 from the field. One not so promising thing was the play of Samuel Dalembert. Sammy, like the Sixers, actually played well in the first quarter, but was simply terrible the rest of the way. He was dominated by anyone the Magic put out there, and the inspired play by Speights could put Dalembert’s future minutes in serious jeopardy.
You can tell the Sixers are still learning the Princeton Offense as they go. Though, I don’t think scoring will be the Sixers problem. What they must work out if they expect to be competitive in the East is their defense. And I believe they will, they do have the personal to play average defense at least.
It’s hard to pull out positives with numbers or describing a specific play from last night. When the Sixers were able to set up their offense it was semi-successful, the system was getting guys open they just weren’t hitting the shots. Not hitting the shots as well or as often as the Magic, which puts you in catch up mode right away. When you have a team the caliber of the Orlando Magic playing as well as they were early on last night, you have no choice but to shoot it out with them. They force you to change your game plan. Now learning a new system virtually on the fly already stacked the deck against the Sixers. And the Magic playing nearly perfect didn’t help either.
So, don’t put your heads down about this team yet. They are going to be a good team, certainly not great, but they won’t be bad either. They aren’t going to have to play the Magic every night, and only 3 or 4 teams are even in the same league as the Magic. And I feel confident saying the Sixers are in that second tier right below those elite teams. Stay tuned, it’s still going to be an exciting and entertaining season for the 76ers.
About the Author
Written by Mike Santa Barbara
Sports writer covering mostly Philadelphia sports for over 10 years. Work has been featured on RealGM.com, GCobb.com and Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia (CSNPhilly.com.)