Feb. 03, 2017
Sixers Unable To Overcome Atrocious Point Guard Play By TJ McConnell, Get Embarassed By Mejri/Mavs
????If you think Jahlil Okafor lost this game for the Sixers, you're clueless. This loss is entirely on TJ. If you don't get that, I really don't know what to say to you. He had more shot attempts than he had assists, and as usual he was atrocious on both ends.
Literally every point Dallas scored when TJ was on the court was because he did not once bother to guard his man. This meant not only that his teammates had to help on his man while he eventually stood around either to pad his rebounding stats or to get the ball but also that the two most dangerous Mavs players -Wes Matthews and Harrison Barnes- were being guard by somebody other than the Sixers' player who was supposed to be guarding each -if they were guarded at all.
That also meant that both Dirk and Mejri were left unguarded on most plays, and we saw the result. Mejri got to the hoop at will because there was often nobody in the paint in time to stop him. Dirk had wide open looks on jumpers all night because the big who was supposed to be guarding him was forced to help defend the penetration. Honestly Ersan's defense on Barnes is really the only reason Dallas didn't score a lot more in the first. I have to admit I was impressed by that.
The Sixers didn't attempt their first jumper off of a pass from TJ until there was seven minutes left in the first quarter. They attempted only three jumpers off of passes from TJ in the entire first half, all misses. In the first quarter this was because his teammates wouldn't let TJ dominate the ball and moved it themselves but after that it was entirely because he never once made passes that set his teammates up to make shots.
His passes were off the mark, lazy, not timely, and almost always after over-dribbling. His passes completely took the option to shoot away from teammates, yet again taking the entire offense out of rhythm. Jah got the ball once down low from TJ in the entire first half. Once.
When TJ came back into the game with 8:25 left in the second ?quarter, the Sixers were up 33-27. Dallas went on to score 23 points to just 14 by the Sixers over the rest of the quarter, entirely because of the play of TJ McConnell on both ends.
It was more of the same in the third, as the Sixers attempted just one jumper off of a pass from TJ, this time a made three by Saric. As was the case in the second quarter with TJ running the point, the entire offense was "off" and out of rhythm in the third. TJ made his first basket in the third after bricking all three of his prior attempts -all of which were selfish, ill-advised, and after overdribbling.
Sergio was as usual head and shoulders above TJ offensively but not anywhere near where he should've been, as Okafor almost always got the ball near the perimeter rather than the Sixers posting him up. This was entirely because of the point guard dribbling too far, forcing Jah to come up high.
The Sixers completely unraveled in the fourth, partially due to the same four on five defense they play game in and game out thanks to zero defense from either of their point guards but also because the offense was out of rhythm and just "off". There was sporadic rhythm on that end and players just weren't hitting shots even when Sergio was in.
The Sixers scored a total of eight points in the four minutes TJ was in the game in the fourth. Six of those points were his own, and they came on selfish possessions by him when his team was down by twenty. They made one jumper off of a pass from TJ in this time, a three by Dario Saric. That was the only jumper the Sixers made off of one of TJ's passes the entire game. During the five minutes Chasson Randle was in for TJ, the Sixers scored seventeen points. That was also one of the few times they showed life in the fourth. Unfortunately Randle did not do a good job defensively, and that left his team with no chance to get any stops and make a real run.
Some people might say Nik Stauskas made Seth Curry look like his brother Steph tonight. Those people must have missed the fact that Stauskas rarely actually got to guard Curry, as TJ did not once bother to guard the opposing point guard. In fact, TJ decided he was going to guard Seth -just like he decided he was going to guard Harden in the loss to Houston-, then either let Seth blow by him or left him and/or let himself get blown up by the screen so he could go chase the ball or float to the paint to pad his rebounding stats. Seth Curry going off is entirely on the Sixers' point guards but especially TJ.
I cannot stress enough that there were very few times in this entire game where the Sixers' defenders were actually guarding their own defensive assignment. This is entirely due to the fact that TJ flat out never once bothered to guard his own man -and would instead decide he was going to guard the shooting guard, then let said shooting guard get open while he went to pad his rebounding stats or try to get the ball- and Sergio isn't physically capable of it. The very few times the Sixers actually did all guard their own man, it made life tougher for Dallas and led to more than a few misses or turnovers.
In other words, everybody trying to blame Jah is a fucking moron. Mejri dominated both him and Nerlens -because Nerlens isn't a five and never will be-, and he very rarely got to play Mejri straight up because he was constantly having to help. Not only that, Mejri got most most of his putbacks either by jumping in the air or keeping his hands up and playing volleyball -two things it's literally not possible to defend.
That's not to say that Jah was perfect. He didn't win enough battles against Mejri. The fact is though, the times the Sixers actually got Jah the ball down low, he either scored or drew the foul -with very few exceptions. Had they actually consistently gotten Jah the ball down low in position to do something with it, he would've probably gotten both Dirk and Mejri in foul trouble. He was also the only reason they were in this game for most of it.
Give Mejri his due. He's been a tough, solid big man for the entire time he's been in the NBA. You not knowing this and disrespecting him while scapegoating Jah for this loss says a lot more about you than it does either player. I said in our preview of this game that Mejri would give Okafor and Nerlens problems. I've known since watching him in Tunisia that he's a very tough, capable player. He yet again proved himself to be just that tonight, especially the many times his defender was forced to help and thus not able to guard him straight up.
The Sixers lost this game because of TJ. If you can't see that, you either don't know the game or are seeing only what you want to see. He yet again was atrocious on both ends, yet again took not just every single one of his teammates but the entire team out of rhythm offensively due to his awful passes, overdribbling, and selfish play, and yet again was the biggest reason the opposing team scored at will with him on the floor.
Sergio wasn't much better defensively, and his not posting up Jah or playing up to his capabilities as a point guard meant the Sixers couldn't bail TJ out for his shit play, leading to a blowout loss.
This was an embarrassing game but the fact is it showed the reality of the Sixers with TJ running the point -unless you still choose not to see it.