As a longtime fan, I have been going to several Sixers games a year for the past 15+ years. Unfortunately I haven't been able to go for the last few seasons, and Friday's game was my first in over 3 years.
The main things I took away from the game were:
- During the pre-game warm-up, why was Luke practicing 3-point shots? He shot about 10 attempts, made only 1.
- there was no buzz or emotion from the players during the pre-game introductions. Most players seemed to just run out without any energy, and the first few players did not even wait for the announcer to introduce them before they ran out. They really seemed to just be going through the motions. Only Gibson and Petrie showed any spark by giving each other a 'bump'.
- Gibson was good with the Sixers kids pre-game.
- I have seen most of the televised games over the last couple years, but the Sixers offence is even uglier to watch in person. There seemed to be either a lot of movement but with no purpose, or no movement at all. Spacing was terrible, players were crowding each other, driving into each other (let alone defenders), passing to players out of position or not expecting the ball (the number of very short passes to stationary players not expecting the ball was terrible) , or simply passing the ball straight out of court.
- the players were simply out of synch with each other, and they seemed to go through very laboured cuts, screens and general movement without any scoring intention. It seemed like they were forcing passes and shots that they knew would not work to begin with, and no-one seemed disappointed when they didn't.
- it was difficult to keep track of who was on court at any time as it seemed there were subs every couple of minutes. If I as a spectator couldn't get any continuity, I hate to think what it would be like to play in that situation.
- Luke and DJ both crowded the post areas and got in each others way a lot when they were playing together. Both seemed a step behind on defence (whether by effort or ability). Luke missed several shots that he should have made too.
- DJ has a nice touch from mid-range.
- Weigh was solid at both ends. He scored a couple of times from foul line jumpers early in the game, and then I don't recall him touching the ball in that spot again for the rest of the game.
- Gibson came out after the halftime break and tried to take over the offence. It was good to see someone finally wanting to take charge and get back into the game. Even though he wasn't scoring himself he was directing the others and making the right pass to someone in good position - even if shots weren't falling and after some silly turnovers. Petrie and Weigh seemed to feed off of this too and more plays seemed to be improvised.
- It was obvious that the play-book was discarded in the last 5 mins of the game too, and the players seemed to play with more enjoyment and flair. DJ finally found space and his shot started to fall, and Cadee showed in those couple of minutes he can drive and score when there is a bit of space in the keyway.
- Woolongong's offence was simple and they executed well, often finding an open man for an easy shot. They had a lot more energy on court for the whole game and communicated well at both ends.
- the crowd was small and, for most of the game, quiet. And from the comments around us, people expected the worst from the Sixers too.
- Our hotdogs and chips were surprisingly good (not expecting much).
- Murray was good walking around the crowd getting the kids involved.
Overall, the lack of passion and energy from most of the players and feeling that they were just going through the motions for most of the game really stood out. It seemed to feed into the crowd, and was like no other Sixers game I have been to. Even during the Ninnis season the team (and crowd) had more spark. The players have the talent to be a top-4 team (if not higher), it just seems that there is a significant leadership/motivational hurdle holding them back.