Saturday, December 13, 2008

Maurice Cheeks Squeezed Out of Philadelphia

Mo Cheeks got the flick this afternoon as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. This move isn't a huge surprise seeing that the rumours had been swirling about Cheeks demise in the last couple of weeks.

Mo might have been a victim of his own success. The Sixers weren't supposed to make the playoffs last season, but they did and almost knocked over the heavily favoured Detroit Pistons in the first round. Philadelphia led that series 2-1 and should have gone 3-1 up before Detroit regained control and took the series in six games.

The surprise addition of Elton Brand in the summer gave Philadelphia the low-post scorer and genuine inside threat that they lacked last season. Big Samuel Dalembert isn't capable of doing that job. However, Brand has struggled with Philadelphia and the Sixers are 9-14.

The real problem in Philadelphia this season has been Andre Iguodala. Iggy oozes talent and has long, strong arms yet he simply doesn't utilize his strengths enough. Like a lot of "franchise" players, he is undisciplined and settles for too many jumpshots rather than attack the hoop and getting to the free throw line.

His scoring numbers are down across the board. He is averaging 14.9 points-per-game and is shooting a career low 43.9 percent from the field. Certainly some of the reason his scoring is down is due to the presence of Brand and the emergence of Thaddeus Young, but that's no excuse for his lazy field goal shooting.

Philadelphia need Iguodala to forget about the jumpshot and get to the paint.

Look for 76ers GM Ed Stefanski to try and grab former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan to fill the void, though it probably won't happen before next season.


The Toronto Raptors won for the second time in a row last night. Interim head coach Jay Triano's team blew the New Jersey Nets apart by 22 points. Since Triano took over from Sam Mitchell, the Raptors are 2-3, although the wins came against Indiana and the Nets.

It's still too early into Triano's reign to see what sort of coach he'll be and considering that in two of the three losses he's coached, Toronto was ripped by Utah and Cleveland, but the team does look to be playing a bit 'looser' than they were under Mitchell.

Andrea Bargnani's wildly inconsistency continues, but he doesn't look like he's looking over his shoulder all the time, waiting to get yanked at the first error. Raptors General Manager Bryan Colangelo will probably never admit it, but if he could have that 2006 draft all over again, there is absolutely no doubt that he would take Brandon Roy first overall.

Back to Triano and the Raptors and we'll get a better idea of Triano's coaching abilities Sunday afternoon when Toronto hosts Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets.

Regular readers of The Daily Hurt know that I believe that Paul is the BEST player in the world right now, ahead of Kobe, LeBron and anyone else.

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