Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Astonishing Icing Out of Jrue Holiday

You saw it. I saw it. And if you didn't see it, you are incredibly lucky.

Up 4 with 22 seconds to go, Andre Iguodala decided it would be a good idea to reach in on Jason Richardson at the three-point line. Then the damn shot goes in. You can call it ticky-tac, because frankly it was. Iguodala barely touched Richardson. But it was insanely stupid regardless. Iggy should have been nowhere near even touching his man behind the three-point arc, let alone reaching his hand in. But he did, finding an even more creative way to prove just how un-clutch he truly is. If you're in a tight game down the stretch, Andre Iguodala will find a way to screw it up — offensively or defensively. Being that close to Richardson is just plain inexcusable.

But you know what's just as inexcusable? The game plan down the stretch by Doug Collins.

I like Doug Collins. I think he's a pretty good coach and has a great basketball mind. But sometimes he does things that just make absolutely no sense whatsoever. His designed offense in the final minutes of last night's blown game was one of those times.

With less than 3 minutes to play, the Sixers trailed Orlando by a bucket. That's when Jrue Holiday hit a tough turnaround jumper to tie the game with 2:15 remaining. After a stop, he then hit another sick turnaround to put Philadelphia up 84-82 with 1:35 remaining. The second-year point guard was coming up big in the clutch … and then he didn't touch the ball the rest of the damn game.

Instead of keeping the ball in his starting point guard's hands, the kid who just hit two awesome shots to tie the game and then give the Sixers the lead, Doug Collins elected to run the offense through Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala the rest of the way, with those guys iso-ing on one side of the floor and playing a two-man game.

Just to make that clear, Collins thought it would be a better idea to put the ball in Lou Will's hands, the same guy who clanked a couple key free throws recently, to make the decisions, and the run the entire offense around him and Iguodala, who despite a few game-winners in his career has proven to be a less-than-optimal option in the clutch, than it would be to let his starting point guard who had a hot hand decide the outcome with the ball in his hands. Isn't this guy supposed to be a wise, veteran coach?

Predictably, Collins' plan couldn't have backfired any worse. Yes, Iguodala did hit one of his cringe-worthy fadeaway jumpers with 1:04 left to put the Sixers up 86-84, and Lou Will added a free throw off a tech to make it 87-84 with 49.4 left to play. Hell, the Sixers even extended the lead to 89-84 with a couple more Iggy free throws. Then the other shoe dropped, and it all came crashing down. After J.J. Redick made it 89-86, Lou Will only made one of two from the line with 22.1 left. If he hits them both, the game is over. He did not.

That's when Iguodala committed the foul, Richardson hit the three and capped off the four-point play, and Lou Will ended regulation with one more iso play that resulted in a fall-away three-point heave with a power forward covering him. Yes, the shot rattled around and looked like it was going to fall, but it didn't. And even if it did go in, that doesn't mean it was a good shot. It wasn't. At all. Why Lou didn't drive past the bigger, slower Brandon Bass to the hoop — especially with Dwight Howard fouled out — is beyond me.

Even more baffling is why Collins completely took Holiday out of the offense after he had hit two big shots late in the fourth and was doing a good job scoring, finishing with 16 points.

I just don't get it. After hitting consecutive shots to give the Sixers the lead, Jrue didn't get another shot up. Not one. Meanwhile, Williams and Iguodala took every shot in the final 1:35 of regulation and the entire overtime with the exception of a Thaddeus Young dunk with 43 seconds remaining a missed Evan Turner hook shot with 2 seconds left.

Uncoincidentally, the Sixers blew another late lead and lost in overtime. The future of this team is Jrue Holiday. That's plain for everyone to see. Now's the time to put the ball in his hands when it matters. Instead, his coach and teammates iced him out when in the most important moments of the game, and a late lead turned into an embarrassing overtime loss. Again.

We know how the story ends with Lou Will and Andre Iguodala deciding the outcome. It would be nice to find out if things could be different with Holiday. Now it's up to Collins and his teammates to allow that to happen.

1 comment:

  1. The Sixers epidemic of stupidity spread to other PA basketball teams last night...I know you don't care for Penn State basketball but they decided to screen the man guarding the inbounder and throw a full court pass, which was easily intercepted, instead of just safely getting the ball in and use the 3.4 seconds they had to dribble down and find a decent shot...coulda been their 3rd win against a ranked oppenent...wanted to post about this today but work sucks so I couldn't