Jan. 12, 2017
Sixers Overcome Atrocious Point Guard Play By TJ McConnell To Beat New York 98-97
The TJ McConnell Lovefest is in full swing after he hit an ill-advised shot that went in at the buzzer and gave the Sixers the come-from behind victory over New York.
Forget the fact that he was the reason they had to come from behind in the first place or the fact that he had literally nothing to do with the comeback other than that last shot.
Forget the fact that he didn't throw a single decent pass tonight, that every single one was unbelievably unnecessarily showy, off-target, and late. Forget the fact that he had his entire team out of rhythm for the second straight game thanks to his awful passing.
Forget the fact that he blew multiple layups and floaters. Forget the fact that he literally threw the ball away multiple times tonight and squandered almost every single fast break the Sixers had with atrocious passing and bad decisions.
Forget the fact that he was pretty much responsible for every single basket Derrick Rose scored entirely due to giving zero effort on defense -including standing around in the paint guarding nobody both on Rose's layup that made it 97-94 and his drawing three Sixers' help defenders to free three Knicks for wide open shots and set up a wide open three that Kristaps Porzingis airballed while TJ stood around.
Forget all of that. "TJ won this game" because people who watch basketball entirely to be entertained can't comprehend anything beyond that, and most people who write or talk about basketball these days are that type.
Well I'm not that type, and I don't write this or any other blog for that type so if you're looking for that completely inaccurate bullshit, look elsewhere.
If, however, you're looking to find out what actually happened tonight then continue reading.
TJ got credit for the Sixers getting out to a 4-0 lead to start the game. He got credit for this despite not once bothering to even attempt to guard Derrick Rose other than to contest a three he took. He got credit for this despite his passes from the very beginning being late, off-target, and after overdribbling. This is the way the Sixers' broadcasts go and have ever since it was Iverson playing this way.
In reality, it was Ersan who hit two shots early off of terrible passes from TJ, and Embiid who bailed him out down low by corralling his bad, late pass and going up strong with it for a layup. In reality, it was Melo bricking a three rather than recognizing Rose was wide open thanks to TJ not bothering to guard him that led to the fast-break going the other way which set up one of those scores.
In reality, the Sixers won in part because they lucked out that TJ's atrocious play didn't cost them -or because they bailed his ass out- on some huge plays.
There were two huge plays in particular where the Sixers flat out don't win this game if they don't get bailed out.
First TJ set up Robert Covington for the charge with a late pass -something he does to his teammates constantly- on the play where Nik Stauskas drained the huge three off the perfect pass from Covington but luckily for the Sixers, it wasn't called.
Second, after standing around in the paint and not even bothering to guard Derrick Rose when he drove into the paint for an easy layup to put New York up by three, TJ did the exact same thing -forcing three Sixers to play help defense on Rose while he stood around the paint guarding nobody and freeing up three Knicks players for wide open looks on the perimeter- but Kristaps Porzingis airballed a wide open three, while TJ stood around just outside the paint guarding nobody entirely to pad his rebounding stats.
If either of these plays go New York's way, the Knicks leave The Center with a victory.
With the exception of a stretch in the third, the offense functioned extremely well when TJ either wasn't on the floor or barely touched the ball, and you saw the efficient, unselfish offense this team is capable of.
When he was used as the facilitator of the offense, however, the Sixers missed shots and turned the ball over more times than not.
Almost single miss when TJ was on the floor was because he made an awful pass that had to be adjusted to.
He threw a completely unnecessary alley-oop so off-target that Nerlens couldn't convert it. The next play -on yet another fast break that wasn't caused by him- he made an atrocious pass that almost bounced off of Nerlens' hands and forced him to corral it with two hands, rendering him unable to drive to the hoop and forcing him to make what was a great pass and smart decision but one that was read all the way by New York.
If TJ makes an even remotely good pass on either of those possessions, it's a Nerlens fast-break dunk. Instead, TJ does what he does pretty much every single offensive play, and yet again a teammate gets blamed for a turnover that was really TJ's fault.
Both of Embiid's missed threes were off of atrocious, showy passes from TJ. One was behind the back -something Nik Stauskas does on-target with ease- and another was an underhand shovel pass -a favorite of showy "point guards" like John Wall, Kyrie, and for years Rajon Rondo-, which he threw to Ersan and others as well. All of these passes predictably led to misses as they were not timely nor on-target.
TJ was the reason the Sixers were down for large periods of this game. He was the entire reason they got down by double-digits.
His bad, showy passing -often after overdribbling- got his entire team out of rhythm. They had to fight themselves all night long because TJ was so atrocious as the point guard the entire night that nobody could get into a rhythm. Watch the tape if you don't believe me.
The same players you'd expect it from at this point saved this game and got the Sixers back into it.
Gerald Henderson started hitting shots and attacking offensively. Robert Covington attacked all game long, often either drawing contact or making just excellent passes to set up teammates off of his penetration. TLC and Nerlens came in and gave the Sixers huge minutes, and Ersan and Embiid made key, timely offensive plays that either led to a score or a foul.
As bad as Stauskas and Sergio played, they each made an excellent pass to set up a teammate for an easy bucket at a time when the Sixers needed it the most. Stauskas made a laser of a direct pass to Ilyasova from beyond the arc to give him an easy layup when the defense was caught napping, and Sergio set up I believe it was Saric for a wide open mid-range jumper on a laser-accurate pass to his right off the drive.
Then TJ would come in and squander the lead again, time after time tonight.
People who don't know basketball think it's a coincidence that neither Ersan Ilyasova nor Nik Stauskas -the Sixers' two best shooters this year by far- could hit a three or even a jumper off of a pass from TJ.
They think it's a coincidence that ever since TJ threw him a pass that was so atrocious it almost came up and hit him in the face off the bounce in the win over Minnesota, the formerly death-and-taxes reliable Ilyasova can't hit shots to save his life and is completely out of rhythm offensively.
They think it's a coincidence that Robert Covington starts off games TJ starts ice cold then finally hits some shots when people other than TJ pass him the ball. They think it's a coincidence that Joel Embiid eventually looks spastic and out of rhythm with the ball in every single game he plays with TJ.
It's not a coincidence. It's what happens when you play with a garbage "point guard" who never bothers to make the right pass at the right time in the right way. Ever.
Give Melo credit. Covington and Saric played pretty excellent defense on him -as did Ilyasova at times- but he was flat out almost unguardable tonight. He hit tough shot after tough shot, and along with Derrick Rose almost single-handedly won this game for the Knicks.
Give credit to Kyle O'Quinn, who was so huge that he already had a double-double before the half! Give credit to Lance Thomas, who made some big plays at times.
Don't however give credit to Derrick Rose or Brandon Jennings, as both were pretty much playing against zero defense almost the entire game thanks to TJ yet again not even bothering to guard his man and Sergio and Nik Stauskas being no match for either Knicks point guard. Again, watch the tape if you don't believe me.
Give credit to Robert Covington not just for his two huge threes to give the Sixers the lead again or his excellent defense and timely rebounds but also for his aggressive play offensively the entire game and his setting up teammates with unselfish, on-target passes despite being in a position to score if he really wanted to. Covington has exemplified everything Brett Brown preaches since his rookie year, even in the 2015 Rookie-Sophomore showcase game.
Give credit to Ersan for the same things, for yet again coming up big whether with savvy offensive plays, great passes, or tough defense despite being out of rhythm all game and even at times hearing boos from the fickle ass bandwagon fans in the crowd. Without Ersan, the Sixers would be winless this season. Period.
Give credit to Gerald Henderson for yet gain coming up big offensively when the Sixers needed it most in addition to his very good overall play. I really can't say enough about how well he has played and the effort he's given on both ends despite his hip injury.
Give credit to Dario Saric for rising to the challenge of going up against Melo, even if Melo won that battle today. He played tough defense and showed the kind of fight and poise that this Sixers team is all about.
Give credit to Sergio Rodriguez and Nik Stauskas for never giving up or mailing it in despite struggling with their shot, and for making exactly the right pass in exactly the right way when the Sixers needed it most. Without those two plays or Stauskas' huge three, the Sixers don't win tonight. Period. This is what Sixers basketball under Brett Brown is all about.
Give credit to TLC and Nerlens for giving the Sixers huge minutes not just defensively but on offense as well. This is becoming a pattern with these two in this current hot streak, and that's not a coincidence.
Give credit to the Sixers' bigs for making the Knicks' franchise player Kristaps Porzingis look human. Don't for a second be fooled into thinking his struggles weren't entirely due to how hard they made things for him all night long.
Give credit to Joel Embiid, who was a problem -even on a sprained ankle- despite being completely out of rhythm thanks to TJ's point guard play and having to fight that all night -which led to his injury, as he was trying to drive to the hoop with unsure footwork- and even hitting that absolutely huge three late in the fourth. If he doesn't hit that three, the game is over.
Don't however give credit for this win to the player who is least deserving of it all because he hit what was in reality a really poor, ill-advised shot over three taller players. To do so is to insult the players who were the only reason he was put into that position.
They clawed back from the hole TJ put them in time after time in this game with his selfish play on offense and unbelievably lazy defense. They battled against being completely out of rhythm thanks to him the entire game. They dug deep and made the big plays that got the Sixers the lead, time and time again. All TJ did was hit a lucky shot.
The fact that the Sixers battled back in this game and were able to consistently dig deep and claw their way out of the hole that TJ put them in time after time in this game is nothing short of impressive. The fact that Ersan, Stauskas, and Covington could all shake off the way TJ had thrown them off offensively all game long and hit big shots when the Sixers needed it most shows the kind of players they are.
What it also shows though is that TJ is literally the only player on this team who doesn't care about throwing an on-target pass or making the right play. The entire rest of the team is unselfish and plays hard game after game. It's maddening to watch that constantly be squandered and/or to watch this team regress thanks to TJ's atrocious point guard play every time you think they're finally turning a corner.
It really pains me that we've had a Sixers team that represents Philly perfectly for three years yet it's the player who holds The Process back with his atrocious, lazy, self-centered play that gets the love while the players around him that he makes worse game in and game out unfairly get the hate despite playing their damn hearts out.
Call me a hater all you want but it was beyond clear who won this game tonight for the Sixers, and it wasn't TJ.
It's also beyond clear that yet again it's coming at the cost of the development of the players who are much, much more important to the Sixers' future. Wasn't development the whole damn point of the past four years we've suffered through, or is this the rebuilding of the late '00s all over again? Great to see a win but was it really worth it considering the potential cost?