Too Little, Too Late
What's going on in South Philadelphia? Three straight home games against current Eastern Conference playoff teams, two wins, and efficient performances in all three. While the wins aren't exactly the best news for the Sixers' ping pong ball counting fans, it's encouraging to see Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes both playing well.
For the third straight game, Holiday posted an offensive rating of better than 111 and an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) above 52.0. He also put up a double-double for the fifth time in seven games against Indiana, assisting on 52.6 percent of his teammates' made baskets while he was on the floor for his 12 dimes.
Holiday and Hawes worked a solid two-man game against the Pacers, assisting on a total of six of each other’s made buckets and playing well off of each other. Hawes, seemingly out of nowhere, has become a more aggressive player over the past three games. He once again played a bit more in the paint, going 4-8 on shots in the lane.
The Blazers, much like the Sixers’ previous opponent, rely heavily on their starters. Of all the lineups Portland has used over the course of the season, only one has played more than 142 minutes together. That lineup, of course, is the starting five of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, J.J. Hickson, Nicolas Batum, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
While other lineups obviously have tiny sample sizes, there are a few that stand out. Unfortunately for the Blazers, their second-most used lineup, replacing Matthews with Victor Claver, their points per 100 possessions drops by nearly 5.5 points while they give up about three more points per 100 possessions on defense. No other lineup has more than 100 minutes on the floor together, but there are some small sample size anomalies.
When coach Terry Stotts replaces Hickson with Luke Babbitt, of all people, Portland goes crazy at both ends - an offensive rating of 123.3 and a 92.2 defensive rating, by far their best net lineup. That crew is also one of Portland’s best on the glass, pulling down 83.1 percent of defensive rebounds and 29.3 percent of offensive boards.