Theresa Moore, executive producer of T-Time Productions, has announced the NFL Network premiere of the documentary “Third and Long: African Americans in Pro Football 1946-1989.” The first part will be shown on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. The second part will be broadcasted on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m.
“Third and Long” is a unique, two-part documentary that highlights and celebrates the history, racial struggles, sacrifices and accomplishments of African Americans in professional football from 1946, with the re-integration of the sport after a13-year exclusion of Black players, through 1989, when Art Shell was named the first Black head coach of the NFL’s modern era.
The documentary examines the impact of societal events such as World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, Brown v. Board of Education, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and the Vietnam War and adds a unique viewpoint by including the perspectives and experiences of some of the players’ wives. It also examines the critical role and contribution of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) during this time period.
Third and Long includes interviews with football luminaries such as Jim Brown, Willie Lanier, Tony Dungy, Art Shell, Deacon Jones, Bobby Mitchell, Lenny Moore, Wally Triplett, James “Shack” Harris, Walter Beach III, Ray Lewis, Bobby Bell, Joe Gibbs, Ambassador Dan Rooney, Jeffrey Lurie, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Willie Davis, Willie Brown, John Wooten, Abner Haynes, Ted Hendricks, Ron Mix, Paul Hornung, Kellen Winslow Sr. and Doug Williams.
Iguodala selected to his first All-Star Game
Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers forward, was selected to the NBA All-Star Game for the first time in his career. Iguodala becomes the first Sixer not named Allen Iverson to make an all-star game since Dikembe Mutombo in 2002. Iguodala, a reserve, was voted in by head coaches in each conference.
Iguodala was originally the ninth overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2004 NBA draft. Now in his eighth season, Iguodala has started all but 21 of a possible 600 games for his career.
Iguodala is looking to be the first Sixer to play in an all-star game since Allen Iverson in 2006. Iverson was voted a starter for the Eastern Conference as a member of the Sixers in 2010, but did not play due personal reasons. This will be Iguodala’s third time participating in an All-Star Weekend. He took part in the Rookie Challenge in 2005 and again in 2006, taking home MVP honors in the process. Iguodala also competed in the Slam Dunk contest that year, finishing second behind Nate Robinson.
Last month, Iguodala was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Olympic men’s basketball team. He was a starter on the 2010 U.S. World Championship Team, which won the gold medal in Turkey. Iguodala was also a member of the U.S. Select Team, which helped prepare Team USA for the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship and the 2008 Olympics.
The NBA All-Star Game will take place in Orlando on Feb. 26 at Amway Center. The game will be shown on TNT.
The game of basketball should be played where the ball goes inside and then comes out. You need a big man around the basket to make this happen, a player who can score, rebound and close down the lane defensively.
Andrew Bynum can do all those things.
The Philadelphia 76ers have acquired Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team blockbuster trade. The Sixers also received shooting guard Jason Richardson. In the process, the Sixers traded All-Star guard and Olympian Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Vucevic to the Orlando Magic and Maurice “Moe” Harkless, this year’s first round draft pick, to the Magic.
The Lakers received a huge package in all-star center Dwight Howard and Orlando got Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver, and one protected first round selection from each of the three teams involved with the deal.
The Sixers will miss Iguodala’s spectacular play in the open court and his defense. Ironically, Iguodala’s debut as a Nugget will be against the Sixers on Oct. 31 in Philadelphia for the team’s home opener.
However, they now have Bynum, a 7-foot, 280-pounder who is one of the top players in the NBA. With Howard now in the West, Bynum immediately becomes the best big man in the East. Bynum, who grew up in Plainsboro, N.J., is only 24 years old after entering the NBA right out of high school as the 10th pick of the Lakers in 2005. He was a McDonald’s All-American when he played at St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, N.J.
He has already won two NBA championships (2009, 2010) with the Lakers. He made the all-star team for the first time last season, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game while leading the Lakers to playoffs.
The Sixers defeated the Lakers on Feb. 2 in Philadelphia, 95-90. But Bynum was terrific in that contest, tallying 20 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assists. The Sixers should revolve their offense around him. Obviously, teams will collapse on him inside, but that’s exactly what you want. This way he can kick the ball back out to players like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson for easy shots on the perimeter.
Philly should be able to climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference with him. Miami won the NBA championship in the spring. But the Sixers just got a whole lot closer with Bynum in the middle.
The Sixers finished in the eighth spot in the conference. They defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs with Chicago missing two of its top players for most of the series in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The Sixers were very impressive in the Eastern Conference semifinals too, losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Bynum could take them to the next level. After Miami, you have the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets as the teams to watch. The Sixers are right there.
There aren’t a lot of dominant centers in the NBA today. The Sixers have one of them. Philly’s best teams have been the ones with outstanding centers. In 1966–67, the Sixers won the NBA championship with Wilt Chamberlain in the middle. In 1982–83, the team had center Moses Malone, which helped it capture an NBA title.
Bynum has already won two NBA crowns. He played with some great players such as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and others. Nevertheless, he knows how to win and that should really help the Sixers.
Of course Bynum is in the final year of his contract and will be looking for a big deal. The Sixers could offer him a reported $100 million over five years. The Sixers should have a good chance to re-sign him.
He’s worth the investment.
When the Philadelphia 76ers need a basket, they usually get the ball in the hands of a player who can make a big shot. On most nights, Lou Williams has been there for the Sixers. It could be a three-point shot, a drive to the basket or a running one hander. Williams provides the Sixers with a much-needed scoring punch off the bench.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound shooting guard, has emerged as one of the best sixth men in the NBA. Williams’ scoring prowess has moved him into a special category. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, knows the team has a great player that can make a big difference.
“He’s one of the top sixth men in the NBA,” Collins said. “Obviously, Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks), Lou and probably James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder) to me really come to mind. I wouldn’t want to short change anybody else, but those three guys and what they do for their teams.
“I’ve said all along it takes a special guy like Lou to come in cold off that bench and do what he does for us on a nightly basis. When Lou plays well, we’re pretty good because it means he’s on his game. He gives me options. It means I can have Jrue (Holiday) out there. Then, I got Dre (Andre Iguodala) and I got Evan (Turner). When he plays well and is scoring, he’s gives me a lot of options to finish up games.”
Which is what Williams did Friday night in a crucial game against divisional rival Boston. Williams came off the bench to score 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting to help the Sixers take the season series from the Celtics in a 99-86 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
Williams is playing really well. It’s not too often that your leading scorer is a key reserve. But that’s Lou Williams. He’s averaging 15.7 points a game and is very comfortable in his role as the team’s sixth man.
“It’s my job to come in and be aggressive,” Williams said. “It just allows me an opportunity to give the group some energy and a presence off the bench. It’s been one of those things we’ve strived on this year. We had Thad (Thaddeus Young) and Evan (Turner). Now Evan is in the starting lineup. So, we have Jodie (Meeks) now and we’re trying to work him. It’s definitely something we’ve strived for this year.”
Williams is in his sixth season with the Sixers. He was a second round pick in the 2005 NBA draft coming out of South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga., right near Atlanta. He became the first high school player chosen by the Sixers since Darryl Dawkins, who was the fifth pick overall in the first round in 1975.
Williams was a McDonald’s All-American. He was the winner of the Naismith Award, which goes to the best high school player in the nation. He scored 3,338 points in his scholastic career. He averaged 27.5 points a game his senior year. Williams has always been able to put the ball in the basket.
As a sixth man, he knows how to prepare himself for coming off the bench. He follows the flow of the game before he goes to the scorer’s table and comes into the game. He tries to get a feel for what’s going on to give him that edge.
“It has a lot to do with pre-game and looking at scouting reports,” Williams said. “You look at how certain defenders want to play you and who you have in front of you. It changes night in and night out.”
Williams, 25, has improved his skills each year with the Sixers. During the summer months, he really works on his game. He plays in the Rankin Anderson Summer Basketball League with a number of local NBA players like Kyle Lowry, Jason Thompson and others. He put himself in position to be considered for the league’s Sixth Man award.
The last Sixer to win the award was Aaron McKie, former Simon Gratz and Temple standout, who helped the Sixers get to the NBA Finals in 2001. McKie received the award during that remarkable season. Williams isn’t thinking much about the award. He’s just trying to remained focus on helping the Sixers prepare for the NBA playoffs.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Williams said. If happens, it would be great. I never set out to accomplish individual goals. If it happens in the course of us winning some games, I’ll be more than gracious.”
It’s been a big year for Andre Iguodala. Actually, it’s been a special year for Iguodala, the Philadelphia 76ers’ small forward, when you stop and think about it. During the season, he was named to the NBA all-star team for the first time in his career.
In the Sixers playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, Iguodala put on quite a show in Game 6, making two crucial free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 79-78 win over the Bulls, helping the Sixers advance to the semifinals of the Eastern Conference before losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Then, on Saturday night, he was one of 12 players chosen to represent USA Basketball at the 2012 London Olympics. Iguodala is the first Sixer to compete in the Olympics since Allen Iverson in 2004.
“Congrats to Dre,” said Doug Collins, Sixers head coach. “Nobody could be more pleased than I am that he’s starting to get the recognition for being a great player. Being an Olympian in 1972, I know what this means for him and I’m very proud.”
Collins will have a chance to see him in person. He will be the basketball analyst for NBC’s Olympic coverage. Obviously, he’s proud of Iguodala. In fact, a lot of people should be proud of him.
This is quite an honor for a player who some people don’t regard as an all-star caliber player in spite of his accomplishments this season. Well, they can’t say that now. You can’t be a member of this team without having some ability.
There’s nothing but talent on this roster. The players on this team include: Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), James harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets). This is a big time team.
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University’s Hall of Fame and the head coach of the USA basketball team, knows basketball as well as any coach in the country. Coach K realizes that each player brings something unique to the table.
Iguodala brings something that all coaches love. And that’s defense. The 6-foot-6, 207-pounder, is a lock-down defender. He always draws the toughest assignment. He played Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce extremely well in the playoffs. He has guarded LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Iguodala should be a great asset at the defensive end.
But his skills aren’t just limited to defense. On this team, he should be able to get out on the fastbreak where he can utilize his speed and leaping ability. He should also be able to break his man down off the dribble.
Today, a lot of people look at statistics. Iguodala didn’t put up big numbers this season. He averaged 12.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game. Nevertheless, he was a major reason why the Sixers had a strong run in the postseason.
He has a chance to do a lot of the same things and more for the Olympic team.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s been a busy summer with all the personnel moves. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, had a chance to talk about all the trades and free agent signings the team made in the last three weeks.
Of course, the most discussed acquisition was Kwame Brown, the No. 1 pick overall in the NBA draft coming out of high school in 2001 with the Washington Wizards. Brown, 30, signed a reported two-year deal with the Sixers for $6 million. Collins was Brown’s first coach with the Wizards.
A year ago, Brown played for the Golden State Warriors. But he only played in nine games prior to a season-ending pectoral injury. He tallied 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game before the injury. Brown has averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds a game during his 11 years in the NBA. Collins believes the 6-foot-11, 270-pounder, can make a solid contribution.
“Well, I wanted him last year,” Collins said. “I think people when they view Kwame Brown they look at a guy who was a bust as the No. 1 draft pick in the NBA. And that’s not what we’re signing for. I had him at that period of time when he was 18 years old. I understand the pressure that young guy was under.
“I wish I could go back and be a better coach and a better mentor for him at that time. We feel very strongly that what we needed to do was to add size, strength, toughness and post defense. Michael Curry had him in Detroit. He felt like Kwame was one of the top five defensive centers in the NBA. So, we feel like that’s what we’re getting. We’re getting a good rebounder. We think that he can play well with a couple different guys on the floor. He can support us with his versatility. He’s in a great place right now.”
Brown has played for the Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats and the Warriors over his career. Collins feels Brown has a strong connection with this Sixers coaching staff.
“BJ (Brian James) and I were with him in Washington,” Collins said. “Jeff Capel mentored him and was with him in Charlotte. Aaron McKie played with him in L-A. Michael Curry coached him in Detroit. So, he’s coming into a place that he feels very good about. I think we’re going to see the best Kwame has to offer.”
Collins has already penciled in Brown as the starting center entering training camp.
“We’re going to have Jrue (Holiday), Dre (Andre Iguodala) and Evan (Turner) in the backcourt,” he said. “Spencer (Hawes) playing as a four, which we think he’s more comfortable doing that. Kwame will do all the heavy lifting and play against the big centers.”
When Derrick Rose went down with a season ending injury in the first game of the Philadelphia 76ers-Chicago Bulls best of seven first-round NBA playoff series, some people believed the Sixers would now cruise the rest of the way in this quarterfinal matchup. Rose, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and is done for the rest of this season and likely most of next year. His absence on the floor should help the Sixers, but fans should keep in mind the ability of teams to rally once they lose a star player.
If you’re a true Sixers fan, you remember 1980 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got hurt and missed Game 6 of the NBA championship series because of an ankle injury. Well, that’s the game when Magic Johnson, then a rookie, put on a magnificent performance. Johnson had 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 123-117 win over the Sixers. As a result, the Lakers ended up winning the league championship.
The only difference is that was one game. It would have been interesting to see how the Lakers would have responded if Abdul-Jabbar had missed the entire series. Nevertheless, Rose’s injury does change a lot of things.
Rose is one of the most explosive players in the NBA. The Bulls all-star guard averaged 21.8 points, 7.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds a game this season. He had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Chicago’s 103-91 victory over the Sixers on Saturday.
Now, the Bulls will have to play backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas III against Jrue Holiday, Sixers 6-foot-4 playmaker. Holiday should have a big advantage against Watson and Lucas. However, Watson did play extremely well in an 89-80 victory over the Sixers on March 17. He had a game-high 20 points that night.
Without Rose, Chicago is pretty much left with a group of role players, which include 6-foot-7 Luol Deng, 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer, 6-foot-7 Ronnie Brewer, 6-foot-7 Richard Hamilton, 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah and 6-foot-9 Taj Gibson. None of these players are superstars at this point in their careers. The Sixers should be able to matchup with Holiday, 6-foot-6 Andre Iguodala, 6-foot-7 Evan Turner, 6-foot-9 Elton Brand, 6-foot-1 Lou Williams and 6-foot-8 Thaddeus Young.
Holiday had 16 points and seven rebounds in game one. Brand was very impressive, scoring a team-high 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
The big thing with the Sixers is they have to do a better job on the boards and play better on defense. They have to force as many turnovers as possible. They need to get out and run whenever the opportunity presents itself. In spite of Rose not being there, the Sixers style of play shouldn’t change.
The Sixers will face the Bulls on Tuesday night, May 1 at 8 p.m. in what should be a very interesting Game 2 of this series. They could definitely use a win to shift the momentum with Games 3 and 4 at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, May 4 and Sunday, May 6.
Rose missed 27 games this season. The Bulls were 18-9 without him. They know how to win without Rose. The Sixers have to remember and come with the same intensity as if Rose were still there.
The Philadelphia 76ers have received some impressive play from several players like Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. But they haven’t been the only contributors. Lavoy Allen, Sixers rookie forward, has given the team some quality minutes.
Allen, former Temple star, has stepped in and provided the Sixers with a tremendous lift when they needed it the most. With centers Spencer Hawes nursing a strained Achilles and Nikola Vucevic dealing with a strained quad, Allen has been given a chance to get on the floor and display his talent. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, has been very pleased with Allen, the team’s second round draft choice and the 50th player selected overall in last spring’s NBA draft.
“He’s been a real pleasant surprise for us,” Collins said. “The guys trust him and believe in him. He’s big and strong down there. He’s a very skilled player. Our guys like him on the floor. They really believe in him. That size of him in the paint is a factor. We watch tapes of him. Guys are bouncing off him. He’s a big strong guy. He’s about 260. I would like to get him around 250. He’ll be a little quicker. I don’t think he’s going to lose any of that strength. He’s got a soft shooting touch.”
Prior to Monday’s game against Orlando, Allen has been averaging 19.2 minutes a game over the last five games. He scored 10 points and pulled down six rebounds in a win over the Washington Wizards. Allen had eight points and seven rebounds in last Friday’s victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. He’s averaging 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds a game.
“It feels good just to help my team,” said Allen, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound power forward. “I’m just trying to hold it down until Spencer and Nic come back. It feels good. I’ve been learning all year long from the guys. I feel like my teammates trust me. I’ve been getting rebounds, playing good defense and scoring. My two main jobs are to get rebounds and play good defense. I try to spread the floor and get up and down. That’s what the coaches tell me to do.”
Allen has been doing these things for a long time. It goes back to his playing days at Pennsbury High School in Bucks County. The Morrisville native gradually developed into a standout player with a lot of work on his game. He attended college at Temple, where he was a great four-year player for the Owls.
Allen played in four NCAA tournaments during his college career. He was the first Temple player to average a double-double since Ollie Johnson did it in 1971. He averaged 11.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game his senior year. Allen led the Owls to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Although he plays for the Sixers, Allen has kept in touch with head coach Fran Dunphy and the Temple Owls, a benefit of playing for your hometown team.
“They’re doing pretty well,” Allen said. “They’re putting it all together. I get to visit them every once in a while on my off days. I go down and hang out with the guys.”
Temple is coming off a big win over Saint Joseph’s. This is a huge week for the Owls, but an even bigger week for the Sixers with all the great teams coming into the Wells Fargo Center.
PHILADELPHIA — Andre Iguodala snapped a tie game with five straight points in the final 90 seconds to help the Philadelphia 76ers storm back from 15 points down in the first half and stun the Boston Celtics 92-83 on Friday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The young Sixers were a team reborn in the second half and played like a squad that refused to roll over for the championship-tested Celtics.
"I don't even know where to start," Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. "Our guys are pretty amazing. They really are."
The Sixers tied the series at 2-2 with the huge comeback and guaranteed a return home for one more game.
Iguodala, one of the more maligned athletes in recent Philadelphia history, put the Sixers ahead 85-83 with a step-back jumper and buried a 3-pointer for a five-point lead.
Game 5 is Monday in Boston.
Iguodala scored 16 points, Evan Turner had 16 and Lou Williams added 15.
Kevin Garnett had his first bad outing in an otherwise monster series with nine points. With Garnett in a funk, so were the Celtics.
The Sixers just kept attacking, turning a first half of airballs, botched dunks and sloppy defense into a full-blown display of near-flawless basketball.
Thaddeus Young's thunderous slam tied the game at 63 in the middle of the fourth. And when Jodie Meeks drained a 3-pointer on the Sixers' next trip down the court for Philadelphia's first lead 20,000 fans stomped their feet and unleashed two hours of pent-up jubilation.
Williams hounded Paul Pierce and forced a turnover, fed the ball to a streaking Turner for a dunk and put the lead at 68-65.
It was that kind of hustle that brought the Sixers back.
After Garnett blocked a Lavoy Allen shot, Young snagged the ball out of the air and score to make it 74-all.
Game 4 came down to young legs, fresh enthusiasm and untested big-game experience vs. aging, championship-tested stars fighting for another title.
Give the edge to the Sixers.
Iguodala, who has been branded as the face of a mediocre franchise over his eight seasons, has changed that talk with a clutch postseason. He sank the winning free throws in Game 6 to finish off the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round.
And it was Iguodala who finished off the Celtics in Game 4.
Pierce had 24 points and Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 15 assists. Garnett, who turns 36 on Saturday, missed nine of 12 shots. The Celtics look primed for a blowout victory after the first 10 minutes of the game. They hold out hope a trip back to Boston can make them forget about this collapse.
"Coming out of halftime they came out more physical, and we got into that instead of playing basketball. We lost our composure," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Philadelphia CEO Adam Aron tweeted at the break, "This will have to be one of the best come backs ever for the (at)Sixers."
Down 15 at the half, the under-25 crew found their spark, their legs and their shooting touch to crank up the pressure on the Celtics.
Williams hit a 3, Iguodala hit a 3, and Williams converted a three-point play to make it 58-54. Williams stood on the free-throw line with the widest smile of anyone in the building and calmly sank the deficit-slicing free throw.
Meeks, a starter-turned-sub, stole an errant pass and went all the way for his first bucket of the game to make it 63-59 at the end of the quarter.
Philadelphia's 10 baskets in the third were one more than their total for the entire half and their 28 points were three shy off their halftime total.
"We're just going to keep fighting," Collins said. "That's what we do."
The Sixers had vowed they would be a more determined team after the veteran Celtics dismantled and demoralized them on their home court in Game 3.
The Sixers said after their 16-point loss in Game 3 that they would return more focused in preventing another hot Celtics start that took them out of the game and sucked the atmosphere out of the Wells Fargo Center.
The Celtics squashed that attitude before thousands of fans had taken their seats moments after the opening tip.
Pierce and Avery Bradley hit 3-pointers, Garnett hit a pull-up 20-footer and the Celtics raced to a 14-0 lead only 3½ minutes into the game.
The Sixers truly couldn't find their footing. Young bounced the ball off his sneaker on a drive down the lane, and Pierce converted on the other end for an 18-3 lead.
The Celtics could never find that extra scoring boost to truly put away the Sixers. Rondo, Garnett and Ray Allen all had quiet first 24 minutes and the Celtics let the lead drop to seven.
Rondo scored an uncontested bucket coming out of a timeout to end the half and put the Celtics up 46-31.
"That was probably the worst we could shoot," Iguodala said. "They were playing as good as they could play and we were shooting poorly."
Notes: The 76ers head to Boston 2-8 over their last 10 road postseason games. ... The Sixers haven't won a playoff series when they trailed 2-1 since 2001. -- (AP)
Believe it or not, Thaddeus Young is one of the real veteran players on the Philadelphia 76ers. It seems like just yesterday when the Sixers selected him with the 12th overall pick out of Georgia Tech in the 2007 NBA draft.
Young is now in his sixth season with the Sixers. Moreover, he’s the longest tenured Sixer. At age 24, he’s one of the team leaders. Young has exhibited great basketball and terrific leadership skills this season.
“I’ve been here longer than anybody on the team,” Young said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve been here through coaches and different staffs and ownership change. I just take it and go with it.
“My teammates, we’ve been talking and I think this is one of the better communicating teams we’ve had. Even though we’ve played with different groups, I think this is a better communicating team because we have a couple of solid vets who have been to the championship and been to the finals and who have been to the second and third round. I think that’s the biggest part of this change.”
Young, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward, has been one of the Sixers most consistent players. He’s averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. Young has been running the floor, taking the 15 footer, rebounding and playing good defense.
“It’s just about going out there and knowing what you have to do to help your team win with Lou (Williams), Dre (Andre Iguodala) and EB (Elton Brand) gone,” Young said. “There are more shots and more time for me to be out on the court. I have to produce. If I’m going to be out there, I have to produce at all times. I have to be in the pluses and not the minuses. The same thing for Evan (Turner) and Jrue (Holiday), we’ve been here. We’re the guys the organization is shaping around and Andrew Bynum also. So, we have to produce and show production.”
Young has been producing throughout his career. He’s performed extremely well as a starter and a reserve. A year ago, Young and Lou Williams, who now plays for the Atlanta Hawks, were arguably the NBA’s top reserve tandem. Young averaged 12.8 points and 5.2 rebounds a game while helping the Sixers to the NBA playoffs.
“I don’t think it was a big change for me,” Young said. “Last year, I was always in the game playing in the fourth quarter. I was one of those guys the team looked to get a bucket when we needed it or when we needed to get a stop. I was one of the guys who did that. Throughout the course of my career, I’ve had over 100 starts. I’ve always had that starter’s mentality. It was just about getting back into the rotation.
“With me and Lou, when we came off the bench we had to be ready. We were the scorers. The ball is going to be in our hands all the time. We have to kind of facilitate whether we’re coming back or taking the lead. That’s what the coach trusted in us. That’s what we had to do. You have to be ready when you come into the game.”
The Sixers (12-10) are coming off a disappointing 96-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. Young was very steady in that contest scoring 13 points, pulling down nine rebounds and handing out three assists. The Sixers will face the Indiana Pacers on the road tonight. After that, they will return home to host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m.
If the Philadelphia 76ers are going to make the playoffs, the team has a lot of work to do after the NBA All-Star break. The Sixers’ latest loss to the Milwaukee Bucks was critically damaging in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bucks (26-25) are in the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. With the Sixers dropping a 94-92 decision to the Bucks on Wednesday, they have now fallen four games back. In addition, Milwaukee has beaten the Sixers three times this season, holding the tie-breaker with one game remaining between the teams.
The Sixers have 31 games left in the season. After the All-Star break, the schedule isn’t very kind either. The team faces the Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors. With the exception of the Magic and the Timberwolves, all these teams are headed to the playoffs and the Heat are the NBA champions with LeBron James, who will probably win the league’s Most Valuable Player award again this season.
Moreover, the Sixers have just 12 games left at home. So, they’re going to have to play their best basketball on the road. And that’s not easy at this time of the year, when a lot of teams are jockeying for playoff position.
Doug Collins, Sixers’ head coach, will have to find a way to get his team on a serious playoff run. Collins has quite the task in front of him. Of course, everybody has been waiting for 7-foot center Andrew Bynum to play. Bynum has been plagued with bilateral knee bone bruises. He has given various updates on the condition of his knees, but still doesn’t seem to know when he will debut this season.
At this point, the Sixers can’t count on Bynum. Even if he comes back and plays, it’s going to take him a while to get into playing shape. He hasn’t played a game since last spring, when the Los Angeles Lakers were in the playoffs. Jason Richardson, Sixers’ shooting guard, will miss the rest of the season after left knee surgery. Richardson, a veteran and good outside shooter, averaged 10.5 points a game. The Sixers are also playing without small forward Thaddeus Young, who has been rehabbing a left hamstring injury. Young has missed four games. Prior to the injury, Young was having a great season averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.
Young has been the team’s most consistent player this season, and getting him back healthy will be a big lift.
Jrue Holiday, who will be heading to Houston this weekend for his first NBA all-star appearance, will have to step up even more after the break. Holiday is averaging 17.8 points and 8.9 assists a game. He’s going to have to limit his turnovers and provide some additional leadership in the backcourt. Evan Turner, Sixers’ small forward, is averaging 13.8 points and 5.9 rebounds a game, but Turner is going to have to do more, particularly if Holiday hits a flat spot. Nick Young has to continue to provide some much needed outside shooting. Young is averaging 11.5 points a game and certainly has had some big moments.
The most work needs to come from the frontcourt with Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen. Hawes is averaging 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. Allen is tallying 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. The numbers aren’t a big thing with them. But they have to do a better job of coming up with loose balls and key rebounds. Too many second and third shots have hurt the Sixers.
Overall, defense has been lacking. That’s one thing Collins could always count on last year. Obviously, Andre Iguodala was a big part of that. Iguodala is one of the best defensive players in the league. That’s why the Denver Nuggets will be a team to contend with in the playoffs. But the Sixers need to come with stops first. If they can get some steals and force some turnovers that will improve their scoring.
The Sixers need to get off to a good start, to say the least. They can’t afford a losing streak now.