The 76ers big man situation was tenuous at best heading into the season, with rookies Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen, career underachiever Marreese Speights, and 35 year old Tony Battie the backups for Spencer Hawes, who himself wasn't exactly a rock of productivity and consistency the 76ers could rely on.
Since that time Hawes has gone down with a left achilles strain, missing the previous 5 games. Vucevic, who had taken over as starter for the injured Hawes, then went down with a strained quad muscle in the game against the Miami Heat. Neither appear likely to play either Friday (at home against the Bobcats) or Saturday (at home against the Pistons). Speights, of course, was traded to Memphis for a pair of second round picks.
What was at one point in the season a strong point with the unexpected play Hawes and Vucevic has now become a glaring weakness. This reached critical mass when Thaddeus Young went down early in the 4th quarter in the teams 97-90 overtime loss to the Nets with a lower back injury. The full extent of Young's injury was not immediately known, as he was being worked out by the training staff after the game and was unavailable to the media for questioning. For what it's worth, Collins said Young had told him during the game he was able to return, although how his body will react after resting remains to be seen.
"I just kept looking [at the bench] 'who can I put in the game?'", a frustrated Doug Collins said after the game. "Thad was willing to go out there, but I know his back was hurt."
Lavoy Allen, who gave the Sixers a tremendous boost in their 103-83 win over the Wizards, came back down to earth in the 17 minutes and change he received against the Nets. The rookie second round picked finished with 6 points (on 2-5 shooting) and 2 rebounds for the game, struggling in the first half to establish position on the defensive glass.
"The body of work is one game. I don't get one [bit] excited with a blip in the radar screen," Collins said about Allen before the game. "I'd like to see 4 or 5 of those in a row."
The question with Allen has never been his talent but his drive and maintaining a consistent effort level.
"The constant thing with him is just playing with the energy he has to play [with] to be successful," Collins said about Allen.
Veteran Tony Battie started the game, but at his age playing him heavy minutes isn't a likely possibility. "Tony Battie's a 17, 18, 19 minute a game guy," Collins told reporters before the game.
That leaves the team having to look outside the organization for help, and the pickings are rather meager.
"The question is then 'who's out there that is going to be able to come in and help you'," Collins bluntly stated before the game. "The chances of someone like that coming in and helping you are rather slim."
"As much as anything, and it sounds silly, but we need another big guy, if we could, to come in so our guys on off days can play 3-on-3," Collins explained. "if we could get the depth just so those guys can get some extra work [it] would be nice."
SBNation Philly learned during the night that in addition to the rumored Francisco Elson, the Sixers are likely to bring in Dan Gadzuric for a workout, possibly as early as today. Gadzuric, who is about to turn 34 in a couple of weeks, last played 11 minutes per game in 2010-2011, split between the Golden State Warriors and the New Jersey Nets after spending the first eight years of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks. His best season came in 2004-2005 when he averaged 7.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game for the Bucks.
The Sixers roster currently sits at 13 players, with two open positions to add players if they chose.
With Elton Brand in foul trouble most of the fourth quarter and overtime (he would foul out just 39 seconds into overtime) and the injury to Thaddeus Young, the Sixers played much of the final frame and overtime with a 5 guard lineup.
Odds and Ends
As for the game, runs to start the first quarter (9-2 in favor of the Nets) and the third quarter (10-4) doomed the Sixers.
The Sixers struggled to defend the pick and roll, which allowed Deron Williams to get into the paint at will and gave the Nets three point shooters clean looks. Williams finished with 34 points (14-28 shooting) and 11 assists, and the Nets shot 12-27 from three point range, which was a season high in makes for a team against the Sixers. The Nets came into the game second in the league in three pointers made with the Sixers best in the league at defending the three, both in terms of opponents three pointers made (68) and opponents three point percentage (27.2%)
In the Sixers 12 wins on the season they are giving up only 2.8 three pointers made per game on 20.8% shooting. During the 6 losses they're giving up 7.8 per game on 39.8% shooting.
In the first half, Kris Humphries and the Nets dominated the Sixers on the glass. The Nets had 9 first half offensive rebounds on 25 missed field goals, with 4 of the offensive rebounds coming from Humphries, who finished the game with 6 offensive rebounds and 19 total, the most in his 8 year NBA career. The Nets were 4th best in the league in offensive rebounding percentage heading into the game with the Sixers 9th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage.
After not allowing a 30 point scorer in any of the first 15 games in the season the Sixers have allowed two (Chris Bosh and Deron Williams) in the past 3 games.