STAR OF THE WEEK:
The Philadelphia 76ers signed guard J.J. Redick for one purpose…………to shoot the ball, and for at least this week the former Duke Blue Devil served that purpose. The 76ers went 2 – 1 for the week and the pricey free agent acquisition was one of the major reasons why. Redick’s 48 percent from three and timely sharp shooting is why the guard is this week’s star.
On Christmas Day J.J. dropped 24 points on the New York Knicks, going a cool 6-for-10 from the field. Philadelphia was in the midst of a five game losing streak, and had lost nine of its last 10 overall. So Redick’s nine points in the fourth quarter of that contest to secure a much needed win on Christmas Day was ever so necessary. For the week the guard shot 51 percent from the field and averaged 20 points in the three games played.
The season appears to have taken a turn for the better for these Sixers, after a very rough stretch. A stretch that witnessed Philly win just two games in the month of December up to this point. Yet, after their first winning seven day period of the month victories will be much more difficult in the upcoming week. After a tune up in Phoenix, Philly returns home for two tough games against the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons. The deadeye will be needed if Philly has aspirations of keeping that winning feeling.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
It is a make-or-miss or so they say. However and much to the chagrin of basketball purists throughout the land this did not hold true in the Sixers 114 – 110 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. When it comes to shooting, Philadelphia is a pedestrian three point shooting team. Philly ranks 20th in 3pt field percentage (.354) and 16th in 3pt field goals made (10.5 per).
In the three games played during the seven day period Philly shot .39 percent from the arc. But oddly enough in the squad’s one loss of the week the 76ers shot 50 percent. The team’s leader from three that night was no other than CENTER Joel Embiid. The big man took 12 of them things, making six. No one wins if your seven footer feels that comfortable hoisting from three. Fatigue and decision-making play a significant role in that “make-or-miss” theory and are often the context that is ignored when the number of makes is rattled off.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY:
This week’s top rookie performer is Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. The first year player has given the Utah franchise hope as he replaces the departed Gordon Hayward. Mitchell has provided energy and tenacity from game one, and has by far been the most offensively polished of the first year players. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers got a front row seat to the Donovan show, when the rookie gave the Cavs 29 points in a 104 – 101 Jazz win.
At 19.7 points, five assists and two steals for the week, it’s impossible to believe Mitchell was selected outside of the top five.
Here are some of the other top rookie performers for the week:
ANSWERING THE CALL – A.I.’s ROOKIE YEAR
It has been exactly 20 seasons since Hall-of-Fame guard Allen Iverson first blessed the NBA hardwood and ignited the city of Philadelphia. From the moment the Virginia native donned a Philadelphia 76ers uniform fans everywhere had a feeling Iverson was special and their basketball prayers were finally answered.
The organization struggled mightily through five consecutive losing seasons before selecting the six foot powerhouse out of Georgetown, first overall. It appears the franchise has found another transcendent player, in first year “guard” Ben Simmons. Oddly enough this year’s prized rookie guard hits the court after yet another five consecutive losing seasons.
As spectators enjoy the greatness and infancy stages of Simmons’ career, it is hard to forget the last time Philly had something (or someone) this special to root for. So while we partake in the now, it is impossible to not reminisce the before.
The Legends’ Ball
This week Allen Iverson and crew played host to five Hall-of-Famers in Karl Malone and John Stockton of the Utah Jazz, followed by Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley from the Houston Rockets. But first there was another team from Texas on the schedule. The rookie came off the bench in a 111 – 93 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The contest featured a 4-for-7 three point performance by NBA journeymen and current Maverick George McCloud. The reserve finished with 23 points in just 21 minutes.
Next up were the Houston Rockets and specifically former 76er Charles Barkley. The consistently inconsistent Barkley was one of Iverson’s biggest critics and made sure the Rockets obliterated his former club. Chuck snagged 25 rebounds to go with 18 points, as the Rockets prevailed 120 – 99.
After two blowout home losses a Sixers win was long overdue. Unfortunately, the best Philly could muster up was a 97 – 96 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz. However, an efficient A.I. tortured and tormented future Hall-of-Famer John Stockton. Iverson went 3-for-4 from the arc, hitting a game tying three with just over two minutes left. But it was not enough as the 76ers lost their ninth straight and 19 of their last 20 overall.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: