Tag Archive for Basketball

Philadelphia 76ers: Will NBA’s Final 2011-12 Home Opener Sell Out?

Did the 3-2 Philadelphia 76ers create enough buzz in the City of Brotherly Love to fill their arena for their NBA home opener? Philly’s first home game of the season rocks and rolls this Friday, but will Wells Fargo Center be rocking?

Like a rock of ages, the Sixers have been a Philadelphia sports cornerstone since 1963. Now, the franchise hopes to have somewhat of a miracle happen—a sellout—to help rock their opponents.

Back in the day, according to the Bible, Moses struck a rock in the wilderness and drew water to feed the Children of Israel.

Now, the Sixers hope their home crowd flows into Wells Fargo like mighty waters for the team to feed off of.

Also, Philly’s hungry new owners want to avoid their worst nightmare—that the lockout sapped even more fan interest in the 76ers.

The new owners, therefore, have worked hard to reach out and reconnect with fans. Among their actions include lowering ticket prices, buying some of Dr. J’s memorabilia and including a Philly native (Will Smith) in the ownership group.

Therefore, it’ll be intriguing to see just how much the attempt to reconnect with fans impacts home attendance.

Despite the most grueling early schedule in the league, as true fans know, the exciting 76ers come home in second place behind Boston in the Atlantic Division. While Philadelphia opened with an unprecedented five-game road trip, their only losses came at Portland and Utah.

According to ESPN.com, after the first road trip the 76ers averaged 17,650 attendees.

In comparison, several NBA teams are averaging more than 19,000 attendees on the road, but several are also attracting less than the Sixers’ amount.

With an average of over 22,000 fans per game, the Chicago Bulls lead the NBA in home attendance so far this season.

The Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat are the only other teams averaging over 20,000.

The Detroit Pistons have the lowest home attendance average so far this season, attracting just over 12,000 fans per game. The Hornets are next to last with an average of around 15,300.

If the Sixers can average somewhere between the Lakers, Knicks and Hawks, then I’d be impressed. That would be anywhere from 17-19,000.

The NBA’s average attendance last season was 17,319. Last year, averaging 14,751 people per game, Philadelphia ranked No. 25 of 30 in NBA home attendance.

Philadelphia also has a National Lacrosse League team, Villanova basketball, and an arena football squad for the Sixers to compete for love with. So in one of America’s most crowded professional sports towns, the 76ers could likely still lag behind the Phillies, Eagles and Flyers for home attendance.

But the 76ers don’t really have a household name, other than Andre Iguodala, that can put people in the seats.

After numerous rumors early last summer about Iguodala possibly leaving the Sixers, he’s been fantastic so far. If he’s not carrying the team, then he’s making the key plays even on his off-shot nights.

The 76ers also have an entertaining core of reserves who will provide the home fans with lots of excitement. Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Evan Turner are capable of scoring 20 points apiece on any given night. Their capabilities only increase at home.

Interestingly, the Wells Fargo Center is the only NBA venue yet to host a home game this season. All other teams have played at least two.

All that changes, though, this Friday when Detroit arrives to play the Sixers. I believe the 76ers have generated enough buzz to sell out the opener and help the Sixers rock the Pistons.

I’ll be watching, though, to see if attendance boosts in the wake of the 76ers playoff appearance and offseason moves. I’ll let you, my loyal readers; know how it went down—if the game was a sell out and if the house was rocking.

As for you all, stay down with me. Catch my appearances throughout this year for more entertaining renditions of Lake’s Liberty Ball Breakdown

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Miami Heat: What We Learned About the Heat in Their Triple Overtime Win

It’s amazing that the Miami Heat, who lost 100-92 to the Atlanta Hawks at home just a few days ago with both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the court, were able to beat the Hawks in their home court, without LeBron and Wade, in a 116-109 triple overtime thriller.

There’s no way that the Heat are a better team without James and Wade, right?  Yes, the Heat are still at their best when a healthy LeBron and and a healthy Wade are both in the starting lineup, but we did learn something special last night about what the Heat can do without their two brightest stars.

We learned that the Miami Heat have incredible depth on their bench, and they need to start using it more often.

While the Heat’s high scorers were both starters, Chris Bosh with 33 points and Mario Chalmers (who undoubtedly solidified himself as the Heat’s starting point guard) with 29 points, the Heat’s other 54 points came from players off of the Heat’s bench.

Here is a list of the Heat’s “bench” production in their win against the Hawks: James Jones (5 points), Shane Battier (9 points), Dexter Pittman (5 points), Udonis Haslem (14 points), Norris Cole (9 points) and Terrel Harris (9 points).  That is solid production all across the floor from players who aren’t often called on to provide serious offensive production.

One of the most impressive surprises of the Heat’s triple overtime win was the play of rookie Terrel Harris, who spent all last year hopping around the NBA‘s developmental league.  Harris was one point away from going for a double double, with nine points and a thoroughly impressive 14 rebounds, seven of which were offensive rebounds.  Harris’ production will surely earn him some more time at the shooting guard position behind Dwyane Wade, James Jones and possibly Norris Cole.

Almost more impressive than the Heat’s ability to get serious bench production was the way that their starters and their bench players alike played defense against the Hawks.

The Heat’s defense down the stretch was the difference maker in their 116-109 win, holding the Hawks to 38.3 percent shooting overall, as compared to the Hawks’ 47.6 percent shooting percentage in last week’s matchup.

So how did the Heat, without LeBron and Wade, lock down the Hawks, holding them scoreless in the third and final overtime?  The Heat’s bench did so without crashing on every dribble drive like they did in last week’s game, allowing the Hawks to beat them by hitting opportunistic three-pointers.

The Heat locked down the Hawks by forcing them to beat them in the paint against Bosh, Haslem and Anthony, something the Hawks proved they couldn’t do.

The Heat allowed Hawks guards to penetrate into the lane, while still maintaining defensive focus on the Hawks’ outside shooters, ultimately contesting their three-point shots which resulted in the Hawks only hitting 6-of-22 three-pointers for a measly 27.3 percent shooting percentage.

To help put that into perspective, you should know that the Hawks went 9-of-16 (56.3 percent shooting percentage) from beyond the arc, which included two deep three-pointers from Tracy McGrady that sealed the Heat’s fate.

With the Heat’s overtime win, we learned that the Heat are better off trusting their post-defenders’ ability to help in the paint with Joel Anthony, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem, instead of bringing help-side defense on every drive from the guard and small forward position.

We also learned that the Heat’s bench is much stronger than most of us had originally thought.  What some considered the Heat’s biggest weakness, their lack of “depth” on their bench, might just be one of their biggest strengths.

Without LeBron and Wade on the bench against a Hawks team that will undoubtedly be in the playoffs, we might never have known the talent that is buried deep on the Heat’s bench.

The Miami Heat did the unthinkable by beating the Atlanta Hawks without LeBron and Wade, and they taught Heat fans two things about their team that they didn’t know before—that there is legitimate depth on their bench and that trusting their interior defense is a key to winning games.

The Heat’s 116-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks might have taught us more about their team than any other win of the season so far.  Good things are in store for the Miami Heat in 2011-12, that’s for sure. 

Russell Westbrook: Kevin Durant Gives Hotheaded PG Much Needed Reality Check

Kevin Durant finally had enough of Russell Westbrook losing his cool in situations that do not warrant an emotional outburst and let the point guard know.

According to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, the two Oklahoma City Thunder superstars got into a verbal altercation during a timeout in the second quarter of their team’s 98-95 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Westbrook got this all started by acting immature and selfish because he screamed, “shoot the (expletive-ing) ball” at Thabo Sefolosha after he hesitated to hoist up a three-pointer that was kicked to him in the corner.

First of all, what could he have possibly been thinking to yell that during an NBA game? Especially during the second quarter of an early-season matchup that is relatively meaningless?

Second, did he realize he was hollering at THABO SEFOLOSHA? The guy isn’t Ray Allen or Reggie Miller. He’s barely over 30 percent from long range in his career and takes maybe one or two a game at most. He’s on the court to be a defensive stopper, not an offensive weapon.

Durant, Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins attempted to reason with the sour young man at the free-throw line shortly after, but a timeout one minute later led to more fighting.

The Durantula once again tried to calm the fiery PG near the bench but Westbrook completely lost it and the two started screaming at each other and had to be separated.

It’s good to see KD finally stepping up and taking a vocal leadership role on this Thunder team and putting a lunatic like Westbrook in his place when he’s out of line.

Sure, the UCLA product is a good player and would star on most teams, but he needs to realize he is a second banana here behind Durant. If he wants derail team morale by screaming at defensive specialists to jack three-pointers, he needs to expect an earful from the head honcho.

The fact that the Thunder won despite Westbrook’s four point, six assist, three rebound, four turnover performance highlighted by an 0-of-13 shooting performance proves that KD can carry this team and is unquestionably their leader.

There shouldn’t be a next time for Westbrook to get out of line like this, but if there is, expect Durant to quickly end it once again. 

It’s simply unacceptable behavior and No. 35 will not tolerate it. It’s his team and he’s finally not afraid to show it.