The Sixers and a question of patience on the path to greatness

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Star power is an abject must in this league, from any angle. It’s not just about the fact that this is a player-driven league or that “good players are good.” It’s that they drive ticket sales and those players are essential to winning a title. Detroit is the only real team in the last… long, long time span that did not feature a verified “star” player to win a title.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, continues to plug along without a real star. Andre Iguodala is kind of a star. He’s arguably the best complimentary player in the league, a superb passer, defender, and rebounder without being able to really create enough offense for himself. Thaddeus Young is a stellar combo forward who is still, pardon, young. Jrue Holiday is an excellent young point guard. Elton Brand was a star five years ago.

So why do they keep waiting? Why are they holding out on trades for Iguodala and standing pat in free agency? Are they just delusional in thinking this team can contend?

Turns out, not so much. Doug Collins actually has a really great take on this.

It’s not because he wants to tear up his roster by trading young players like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner or Young to get a star. He just wants to be able to.

“When you’re playing for a championship, it seems like those deals come easier for you,” Collins said.

Collins said it’s paramount to make Philadelphia one of those destination places for stars. The only way to do that is to show that the Sixers are on their way to becoming championship material.

via Sixers hoping to make team a destination for superstars | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.

I’ve been critical of the Sixers for not making more moves to shake up the first-round-and-out squad they’ve constructed, but this is actually an excellent paradigm. In order to pull in free agents, they have to be a place players want to play. Philadelphia isn’t San Antonio or Minnesota, but it’s not New York or Los Angeles. If the Sixers can make a run to turn some heads and then translate that into either a trade package or a chance to bring in a difference maker, they can take a step up in the East.

It’s a patient, long-term plan to build a cohesive, effective, talented team. You know, the exact opposite approach of New York and Miami.

Maybe it’s folly and it will never happen, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Iguodala will still be tradeable at the deadline or next year, Holiday will only be better, Young, the same. The Sixers aren’t going to sacrifice their long-term maneuverability in a desperate attempt to get stars to love them. If they did, they’d be the Nets.

It’s true you have to swing when the pitch comes your way. But Collins and the team in Philadelphia are convinced you have to make sure it’s the right pitch.

 

Watch Paul George lose JR Smith, put Cavaliers guard on skates with crossover

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Game 4 between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was hotly-contested in the first half. The Cavaliers led, 58-52, after two quarters.

But one special play came when Indiana’s Paul George put JR Smith on his heels, with the Cavaliers guard reeling back some 10 feet after a pull-back crossover left George alone at the 3-point line.

Via Twitter:

You might say George pushed off with his left hand, but you could also point out that Smith then turned a flop-like head kick into an actual blown defensive assignment.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Kobe Bryant’s new Canvas video is brought to you by the letter O (for Obsession)

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Kobe Bryant’s Canvas series returned to our television screen on Saturday. The Sesame Street-like videos center around finding a place to draw motivation from in order to, as the most recent video says, dominate the will of your opponent.

They’re … weird.

They are also extremely Kobe-ish in that they stay true to the former Los Angeles Lakers great’s internal vision of how to play basketball.

The last one we saw was all about finding a musecage, and using your dark thoughts to propel you to win. This one is all about obsession, and how that emotion separates those who like to win from true competitors.

I’m personally all for these videos. They are maybe a little cheesy, or single-minded, but that’s sort of the point. It accurately reflects Kobe, which is something you don’t often see from retired players trying to transition their brand from player to former player.

Isaiah Thomas scores 33, Celtics beat Bulls 104-95 to tie series

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CHICAGO (AP) Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists. Nikola Mirotic and seldom-used Isaiah Canaan each scored 13 points, but Dwyane Wade finished with just 11.

Canaan made his first appearance since April 10, with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg searching for help at point guard with Rajon Rondo missing his second straight game because of a broken right thumb.

The Celtics led by 20 in the second quarter and were still up 10 in the third when Chicago scored 12 straight. The Bulls went ahead 65-63 on Robin Lopez‘s hook shot with 4:35 left in the quarter.

Thomas answered with back-to-back layups and scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that gave the Celtics a 75-65 lead, and they withstood a push by the Bulls early in the fourth.

With Thomas and Green each scoring 16 in the first half, the Celtics carried a 57-46 lead into the break.

Butler led the Bulls with 17 in the half. But the offense struggled in a big way with Rondo unavailable. Jerian Grant started and went to the bench after about five ineffective minutes. Michael Carter-Williams then picked up two quick fouls, forcing the Bulls to go with Canaan in the first quarter.

The Celtics, meanwhile, led 41-21 early in the second quarter. But things started to turn after Canaan stole the ball from Marcus Smart and scored on a layup.

Smart feigned throwing the ball at Butler. The two came nose to nose, resulting in technical fouls for both players, and the Bulls started to shoot their way back into it.

Mirotic hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight in the quarter. Bobby Portis cut it to 52-42 with his basket late in the half, and Butler hit two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 57-46.

RONDO FINED

The NBA fined Rondo for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3. Crowder jawed at the Bulls’ bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Thomas was just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers but made 12 of 13 free throws.

Bulls: Butler made 19 of 23 foul shots after failing to get to the line in Game 3. … Canaan was inactive for the first three games.

LeBron James swats Thaddeus Young on yet another chasedown block (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is The King, but he’s also the king of chasedown blocks in the NBA. During Sunday’s Game 4 matchup with the Indiana Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers star dropped the hammer yet again on an unsuspecting opponent.

The victim this time was Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who was out on a 2-on-2 break with LeBron trailing.

To be honest, Young should have known better than to try this.

Via Twitter:

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.