Pacers and Sixers Meet on a Similar Path
Philly comes to town riding a three game winning streak to open the season. Sam Donnellon has a nice read on the way the Sixers have come together as a team under Mo Cheeks. There are a lot of similarities between the Sixers and the Pacers, as both try to develop into solid Eastern Conference playoff teams. On paper, the Pacers are considered a better team but that is when they use their depth, play unselfishly, hit the boards, and play strong defense. The Sixers rely on the same definition of team to play larger than the sum of their parts.
Nine Sixers had points and significant minutes, but the theme yesterday, as it has been since their sojourn to Europe, was defense.The Pacers have to maintain the same attitude to remain productive. The players want to run? Well, you gotta play solid team defense and get some stops to earn a chance to run on offense. The margin of error is slight so if one or two guys aren't pulling their weight you will likely be hanging up an L at the end of the night.
"That's something Mo talks and talks about," Iverson said of coach Maurice Cheeks. "He's got to know what he's going to get from every player, every night. What are you bringing to the table every single night?"
"We're almost like a football team," said Steven Hunter, who played most of his nearly 21 minutes in the second half. "It's all about execution.
"We don't get our schemes right, we don't play."
The Sixers margin of error revolves around Iverson and to a certain extent, Chris Webber. The health of AI and C-Webb hang over the Sixers playoff hopes like a guillotine. Webber played 75 games last year, equaling the most games played since the '99-00 season. He averaged 30 games per year the prior three seasons. Games played usually isn't a problem with AI, but he takes a beating which leads to stretches of games where he's playing at far less than 100%. With a nice compliment of young, active players on the roster, these two vets have to be the steadying force that brings the team together and leads them.
Iverson is healthy now and carrying the load so far, sharing player of the week honors with Carlos Boozer. He always brings the effort in front of a boisterous Conseco Fieldhouse making the Sixers games in Indy an event.
The Sixers have a couple of familiar players on their roster this year. Kevin Ollie earned a minor cult following during his 29 games with the Pacers in '01-'02. He came over along with Ron Artest, Ron Mercer, and Brad Miller in a trade for Jalen Rose and Travis Best. While he wasn't a threat to score, he handled the point quite well and made an impression with his defense and constant hustle. He's starting at PG for the Sixers this season allowing Kyle Korver to come off the bench for an offensive boost.
Former IU Hoosier and Brebeuf Jesuit standout, Alan Houston is also on the Sixers roster this year. He has not played in the first three games this year.
Northwest High School's high flyin' alum, Rodney Carney makes his pro debut at Conseco. Carney is averaging about 14 minutes/game off the bench.