Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat

Sixers win, and are in


The Philadelphia 76ers started the season 3-13. It was a disaster. It was time to blow it up, finally. Ed Stefanski was having his job called for. It was an unmitigated disaster.

Then, they got better.

Last night in a win over the Nets, the Sixers clinched a spot in the playoffs. Doug Collins has taken a team that was an abject wreck and turned into a playoff lock, with a high probability of securing the six seed, what with New York melting down around the Bowery and all. The Sixers will likely face either Miami or Boston, both of whom they can match up well with. But that’s for another day.

What’s relevant now is that not only did the Sixers clinch said playoff spot, but to them, the playoffs actually mean something. There are teams for whom the playoffs mean very little, and can even be a step backwards what with the loss of a lottery spot and all (say hello to Charlotte). But the Sixers validated their reasons for not tinkering with the roster, for keeping the team together through the deadline, and for believing in Elton Brand, who has had a monster turnaround this season.

Andre Iguodala may never be the star his teams need him to be, but he’s certainly capable of doing everything else on the floor to set up his teammates to do the work for him. With his defense, passing, and playmaking, Iguodala has proven worthy of the high praise for him stemming from his work with Team USA last summer. The question will still remain who should get that final shot in games, but Iguodala may be the biggest reason the Sixers get a crack at it.

Doug Collins won’t win Coach of the Year, but he definitely deserves a look. After all, check it out. The Sixers are in the playoffs.

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

Byron Scott
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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.