Tonight's game against the New York Knicks is about one thing, and one thing only. Getting back to .500. Truthfully, this team should've never fallen below, certainly not 7 games below (their low-water mark, set with the Spurs loss). Tonight, they can even the ledger after 40 games they'll be back on level ground. Win this one and then you can worry about battling for playoff position, possibly even home-court advantage.
After the jump we'll take a look at the stats, and also the comparisons some have drawn between the Knicks' sophomore wing and our very own Thad Young.
Before we get into this game, I just wanted to point out something. The Sixers have just completed a three-game stretch against 3 playoff teams with a combined record of 72-44. Not only did the Sixers win all three, but they outscored those three teams 318-260, a 58-point margin.
Now, back to tonight's game. The Knicks actually don't look too bad in the four factors stats. Offensively, they shoot better than the Sixers, take better care of the ball and have a better defensive rebounding rate. They run into problems on the defensive end, which isn't really a shock. They allow an eFG of .517.
Personally, I don't think the Knicks stand a chance tonight. Their "seven seconds or less" offense plays right into the Sixers hands. They don't have the athletes to run with Philly, they don't have the inclination to get back when the Sixers run right back at them, and I believe the Sixers have far superior offensive players when the game gets into the half-court, on either end. Put simply, no matter what style you wish to play, the Sixers have the edge.
The only thing that worries me about the match-up with the Knicks is three-point shooting. If the Sixers defend the three like they have over the past handful of games, they'll be fine. If they lapse back to the darker defensive days of the season, though, the Knicks could do damage from deep. They average 29.3 three-point attempts per game, just an obscene number. 34% of their field goal attempts come from downtown.
Finally, a quick word on Wilson Chandler, who I have heard compared to Thad Young. In my opinion, this is just a silly comparison. Chandler is a gunner who plays on a team with very little offensive talent around him. He's shooting 41% from the floor and attempting over 4 threes per game. Thad is a wing who rarely has the ball, rarely has plays called for him, and is shooting 49% from the floor, 36% from three. Chandler's peripheral numbers are a tick better than Thad's (rebounding, assists and blocks), but put him on a good team and he wouldn't be allowed to shoot enough to average 10 points/game.
I like Chandler, I think he's got some talent, but he is a wholly inefficient offensive player and in my mind doesn't project nearly as well as Thad. Keep a close eye on this match-up tonight. They should spend some time guarding each other and I think it will be clear who the better player is.
Elton Brand may or may not play tonight, there seems to be a great deal of confusion between EB and the staff.
A quick programming note: I'm going to be out of town at a wedding and unfortunately, I think this game will be blacked out on League Pass broadband. I'm going to have to record the game and watch it when I get home on my DVR. Expect my recap post to land some time Sunday night. You guys are going to have to carry the blog between now and then, I know you're more than capable.
Tip is at 7:30 p.m., use this post for your in-game discussion and post-game thoughts. Enjoy!