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Uphill battle
ap-201112262229809426135So after a six month-break, the first game of this troubled, weird 2011/2012 season ends with a close loss in Portland, 107-103 (0-1, .000).

I'd say it was a quite disappointing outing.

In fact many times during the game I found myself wondering: "Oh no, this is like last season", and I was thinking about the close losses, all those games Sixers could and should have won, and instead they ended up losing for ...well, some "details".

A turnover here, a loose ball there, a second chance or a three allowed on a key possession. All those small things that separate a mediocre team from a good one, you know.

Of course it would be stupid to complain, and I'm not going to be negative after Game 1, but, of course, I would have liked more taking this one, in the first of a five game road trip. You know, the confidence boost, the "strong start" etc etc...

Speaking of start, here are some points that have to be made (after the break): 1) for a team that basically hasn't changed a single thing in its roster, the Sixers looked WAAAY too rusty and somehow lost in the first quarter: the 0-2 lead was the only one we had all night. I told you, it was an uphill road.

2) by my count, Sixers came within one possession three times, and each time they followed a nice run with some poor plays that pushed Portland ahead again. When it was 72-70 at the end of the third we immediately allowed a three by Batum and had a bad turnover (by Lou) for the 77-70. When it was 77-74 in the 4th, Lou missed a layup and we gave up a long two by the same Batum off an inbound pass with like 3 sec on the shot clock, then Thad turned it over after an offensive rebbound and Crawford knocked down another big three: 82-74.

3) this not to mention the potential game tying three pointer by Iguodala with 5 seconds left: a long, contested three with (6'11) Aldridge's outstretched arm all over him. Can you blame Iguodala for the loss? NO, he played a great game (22 on only 14 shots + 8 + 3 + 4 blocks !!) and he - uncharacteristically - hit I think 5 long jumpers, included 4 threes that kept us in the game, before misfiring on that one.

But can you blame Iguodala for taking such an ill advised shot? YES, absolutely. Horrible solution, that falls in the "I-am-the-supposed-leader-so-I-MUST-take-the-big-shots" category. IMO Sixers could and should have chosen a better option. So Collins has to share the blame with Iguodala as he didn't call another play (how about a pick for Lou? he was red hot and had scored all of Sixers' last 10 points).

4) I honestly don't like the 8-man rotation. Well, make it 7 + 1 as Jodie Meex played 13 (pretty useless) minutes, btw hitting the side of the backboard on Sixers' first shot of the season, a wide open corner trey (therefore if you are superstitious, please do something...). This is basically a playoffs rotation, that in a packed 66 game-season, and with a pretty deep, young roster such as ours makes little sense to me. I think it's too early to give up on Speights and I want to see this Vucevic kid on the floor soon. Coach?

5) Did I mention that Hawes played LIKE A BEAST ??? Really impressive all around game, if you take out his rebouding in the first 6-8 minutes of the first half and a (dumb) airballed three in the fourth. Spencer Hawes is my Player of the game hands down, one assist shy of a triple double, are you kidding me ???!!!

Of course the 20 giveveways and Holiday with a 2/6 a/to ratio are stats that explain many things about the game. But more than the (too high, obviously) number of TOs, it was their timing that really killed us, to me. Another worrying sign: it seemed to me that ALL the loose balls were finishing in some Blazer's hands.

Just to end on some sweet notes, the 7 players in double figure, Lou Williams' impressive explosion and some flashes of Evan Turner (example: taking and knocking down a long jumper immediately after missing two foul shots) are all nice signs that should make us feel confident for the upcoming games: I hope and think we will rebound immmediately.

I don't excpect anything less than a double digit W in Phoenix. Let's roll !!