In a compact season such as this it is very difficult to find the time to talk to opposing bloggers about their teams. By the time we do a game wrap up it is time to write the next pre-game and sometimes the two overlap, like last night for example.
However with Philadelphia coming to town we had to update things with the best Philly blogger we know, Carey Smith of Philadunkia. Carey is the founder and Editor of Philadunkia and have been covering the NBA for various media outlets for over 12 years now.
So as a an additional preview of tonight’s game 3 Shades of Blue give you Carey Smith.
3SOB: Mo Speights has been up and down since joining the Grizzlies but overall he’s been a positive influence. How surprised are you?
Carey: I am not surprised at all. Off the court, Mo is a nice kid and appeared to be very popular with his 76ers teammates and coaches. So off the court I would not be surprised to learn that he was a positive influence.
On the court, he’s an amazing offensive talent and when he has it going, he can score at will. However, to play for Coach Collins you also have to play defense, rebound and work within the offensive system. Those are three things Mo struggled with mightily here in Philly. His inability to grasp those theories dropped him to the 4th big on the depth chart and thus he became expendable. So in the right system I can see where a one-dimensional player like Mo could be a positive influence on the court as well as off. Philly just wasn’t the right fit for him.
3SOB: The Sixers have been a big surprise as well this season. What’s been the reason for the team’s success?
Carey: It may be a surprise to those around the nation, but I actually predicted a 40 win season for the Sixers back in December (http://philadunkia.com/?p=5076) . I think Elton Brand said it best when in a recent post game interview he was asked what the key to the Sixers success has been. EB replied, “Some nights it’s Thad. Some nights it’s Dre. Some nights it’s Jrue. But all the time it’s us.” That last line has become the mantra of this roster.
Collins has gotten this group to buy into playing as a team — at both ends of the floor. They seem to genuinely like each other, so the task may have been a little easier for Collins with this roster, but it’s still a huge achievement for an NBA coach to get a team to play so unselfishly. When they have balanced scoring and very solid team defense, the Sixers are a really fun team to watch and a group that is easy to like. At times during their recent struggles (2-5 in their last 7; 3 straight losses) they’ve strayed from Collins teachings, but I am sure it’s just a bump in the road and they’ll return to playing Sixers ball very soon. Hopefully tonight.
3SOB: Thaddeus Young, a Memphis native, was a major signing Philadelphia in the off-season but isn’t starting. Has he been a disappointment in Philly this season?
Carey: Just the opposite. Thad has been tremendous all season. Even after Rod Thorn resigned him, I did not expect him to come in and start this season. His energy, hustle and scoring burst off the bench have been one of the keys to the Sixers season. His defense has also improved significantly this year. Thad, along with Louis Williams, are the leaders of “The Night Shift” (the Sixers reserve players) and are the main reasons we have arguably the best bench play in the League (43.7 ppg. – #1 in the NBA & 17.7 rpg. – #4 in the NBA).
You can’t look at the idea that Thad doesn’t start for the Sixers and conclude that he is not playing well. You have to focus on the fact that Young may be the best offensive talent on this team and that he is always in the game at clutch time for the Sixers.
Thanks so much for giving us this time Carey. You’ve brought up a lot of points about building a team and success that Memphis fans know well who follow the Grizzlies.