Checking in on Our Teams Owned by a Cable Monopoly

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers beat the Toronto Raptors last night 106-96 to win their 1st road game of the season, and break their 3-game losing streak, moving them to 3-5 on the season.

There have been few bright sports this season for our 76ers, but it is still early in the season, and may take a month or so to come together as a team, with new members, and a new philosophy in the half-court offense. Newcomer Elton Brand has been one of the few bright spots thus far for this team. Brand is averaging a double-double with 16 points, and 11 boards a game. Thaddeus Young has also been a bright spot for the Sixers, and shown that he is comfortable at the 3 spot. Young has shown the ability to take the ball to the basket, and hit the jumper when he needs to.

Unfortunately, the Sixers have struggled at the guard positions. I am not too concerned with point guard Andre Miller, as he is a veteran, and should be able to start playing well soon. Miller is turning the ball over too much, and not hitting his usual mid-range ugly sort of set shot. Andre Iguodala has moved to the 2 guard this season, and has also struggled early. He is still very good in the open floor, but struggles with the half-court offense. He looks like when the Sixers run their half-court sets, and throws up too many contested outside shots. That is not his game. Last night Iguodala was one rebound shy of a triple-double, so this is a good sign that he may be regaining his form from last season. Sammy D has struggled as well, and really is limited beyond rebounding the ball, and scoring on a dunk.

The bench has been up-and-down so far this season. Willie Green has played real well, and then real bad. Louis Williams is the best bench player, and is one of the few players who can hit an outside shot. Rookie Marresse Speights has looked good when he had played, and should get more minutes as the season goes on. Kareem Rush and Donyell Marshall have provided a nice outside option.

The Sixers have really struggled with turnovers, and entered last night’s game against the Raptors leading the league in turnovers. That’s not a statistic you want to lead the league at.

We feel as if the Sixers will turn this season around, it is still very early. The half-court offense needs to go through Elton Brand almost every time down. He is the best offensive player on the team, and has shown that he can find the open man outside when the defense doubles him. It’s just a matter of the other players hitting their outside shots.

Philadelphia Flyers

Sharing the Wachovia Center (soon the be named something else I’m sure) with the Sixers are the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers, like the Sixers, have started out a little slow, but have played a little bit better after the first few games.

The Flyers are 5-6-3 overall, which isn’t bad, but isn’t good. Just like the Eagles in the NFC East, the Flyers play in probably the toughest division in hockey, the Atlantic. This means the Flyers will have to play and beat the Rangers, Penguins, and Devils multiple times to get back into the race in the Atlantic Division.

As a bright spot for the Flyers, their young core group of players has all played pretty well. Mike Richards, the recently named captain before the season started, already leads the team with 17 points in 14 games. One of the other young stars, Jeff Carter leads the team with 9 goals this season. Simon Gagne, Danny Briere, and Mike Knuble have all played well so far this season. However, just like seasons’ past, the offense is not usually the problem with the Flyers.

The Flyers worked very hard in the offseason to improve the defense. They brought in Ossi Vaananen, Andrew Alberts, and their draft pick, Luca Sbisa, to go along with Braydon Coburn, and Kimmo Timonen. The Flyers definitely miss Randy Jones back on defense, and the defense will improve once he is back on the blue line. The Flyers just made a trade for Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Carle, another young defenseman.

The goaltending has been a little shaky, but both Biron and Nitty have also had good games as well and shown the ability to shut down the opposing team and win a game for the Flyers. Biron is a good goaltender, and the amount of goals scored against the Flyers this season, we blame on more lack of defense than poor goaltending. Admittedly, Biron will need to play better as the season goes on, but more importantly, the defense needs to do a better job in front of him.

Bottom line, the offense is a little hot and cold, but can usually score goals. The defense needs to improve, and the Flyers organization has done a good job of loading the team with solid young defenseman, who just need some time to improve. Just like the Sixers, look for the Flyers to start coming together and stringing some wins together.


Dr. G said...

Mostly agree with your observations on both teams. Early in their respective seasons, need time for the components to learn how to jell together, etc. I'm a little more optimistic about the jelling process for the Sixers than for the Flyboys, however. With Gagne back, expect that scoring shouldn't be a major problem for the Boys, but they do have an inexplicable pattern of going through fairly long stretches where they can't find the net. If this happens again this year, I think they're in trouble because their defense and goaltending are just too inconsistent. Hopefully these will improve, but it's looking like the offense needs to put 4-5 in the net to come up with W's. This just can't continue. And I don't share your sunny assessment of Biron. I have the uncomfortable feeling that last year's playoffs were a fluke, and that what we're seeing now is the real Biron. The legendary former Bruins coach and Hockey Night in Canada mega-star, Don Cherry, agrees; prior to the season, he rated Biron as "overrated and mediocre at best." I hope he's wrong, but I'm not confident. And then there's the Flyboys utter futility in shoot-outs. They're not so hot in OT either, but if they can't clinch it there, forget it, because they're absolutely pitiful in "penalty shot" situations. This means that the vast majority of games going extra innings will be L's which, even with the ridiculous 1 point just for getting to OT, won't do much for the standings. So while I think the Sixers will be okay, I'm much less optimistic about the Flyers.

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