The Mavericks are more talented than the Sixers, they have a better coach, they have a better owner, they have fans who show up for games. They have porn-star hair, future hall-of-famers, cool nicknames like "Matrix, "Jet" and "Dumpier." They haven't played a game since Saturday and they're playing in the comfort of their own arena. The Sixers, on the other hand, are playing the ass-end of a back-to-back and none of their players was recently engaged to a deranged grifter, so they've got that going for them.
Unfortunately, the Allen Iverson news cycle won't stop spinning, so I'm not sure how much attention will be paid to this game. I say unfortunately, because that means Eddie Jordan will be free to do what he likes, namely go small, play Willie Green and sacrifice defense for offense at every available opportunity.
I'm going to operate under the assumption that Jrue Holiday will still be in the lineup, so I'll keep the JW portion of the preview alive, for now:
Jrue Watch: Extremely interesting matchup(s) tonight for Jrue. The Mavs have been starting two points, Jason Kidd and Rodrigue Beaubois. They're basically opposites, with Kidd having morphed his game into a spot-up shooter and facilitator alone and Beaubois being described as one of the fastest guys in the league with the ball in his hands. My guess, and hope, is that Jrue is on the rookie and tasked with keeping him out of the lane. Iguodala (hopefully starting at the 2) will have the Kidd assignment. Defensively, I think Jrue is more than fine on the ball, and that's where they should keep him whenever they can. I think he has a much better head on his shoulders than most of the Sixers when he's off the ball and chasing his man all over the floor, but he's really something else at stopping penetration and that's where the team needs him the most. On offense, the kid needs to shoot less and focus on finishing. Move the ball unless you're getting a drive to the hoop or a pure catch-and-shoot look at a three. I don't want to see jumpers off the dribble, or second-thought jumpers when he realizes his man is sagging off him too much. He needs to establish a rhythm and some confidence early on for good things to happen with his shot.
Dallas has been playing a very strange lineup while Josh Howard is out. Essentially, they field three power forwards (Gooden, Marion and Dirk) and the two points I mentioned above. This lineup will probably cause problems for the Sixers, no matter what lineup they put out there. The best defender for Nowitzki is probably Iguodala, and I expect him to spend some time on the German, but not from the jump. If Brand is playing, his best matchup is probably Gooden, but I don't see that happening either. My best guess, assuming a starting lineup of Holiday, Iguodala, Thad, Brand, Sammy, is this:
- Holiday on Beaubois
- Iguodala on Kidd
- Thad on Marion
- Brand on Dirk
- Dalembert on Gooden
On the offensive end, Jrue has a huge size advantage over the rook, Iguodala should look to get into the lane on Kidd (the Mavs really lack a shotblocker), Thad vs. Marion is not a good matchup for us. Brand should be able to handle Gooden. Sammy could do some damage against Dirk, or at least as much damage as you can expect Sammy to do against anyone.
Honestly, I'll be happy if we come out of this game with Jrue playing more minutes than Willie. That's all I ask.
Key to The Game: Threes. Marion, Kidd, Jason Terry, Dirk and Barea can all shoot it, if the PG position allows penetration and the over-helping daisy chain gets started, it's going to be a long night.
If _______________ the Sixers will win: Iguodala shoots 50% or better from the floor.
This is your game thread, the tip is at 8:30 and I'll be right here throughout.