It looks like the Houston Rockets will be at full strength tonight when the Sixers head to Houston. There were reports that resident lunatic Ron Artest could be out until after the All Star break, but word is that he feels fine today and he will play tonight.
Houston is a great example of what happens when you try to build a "Big Three" out of two men made of glass and one guy who's completely loony tunes. When they're all on the floor (and not hallucinating or hearing voices) they comprise a fearsome starting five. When you see the Rockets on the schedule, you just hope you won't be one of the 10 unlucky teams to catch them at full strength.
After the jump we'll take a look at the stats and kick off the in-game discussion.
First, a happy 25th to Andre Iguodala. Jordan has a nice tribute with video over at Liberty Ballers.
Now, we can probably throw a lot of these stats out the window. The Rockets have only had Artest, McGrady and Yao in the lineup for 12 of 46 games (tonight will be #13). With all of those guys healthy, Battier becomes their 6th man and they have excellent depth and defense on the wings. This game is going to be a challenge for Iguodala. He's going to have to find a way to shake Battier and Artest, both guys offer a physical defense that he rarely sees, but I think he's got a quickness edge on them.
Two areas to attack, if you're the Sixers. The first is Rafer Alston on Andre Miller (if they don't put Rafer on Willie, which is what I'd do.) Miller can post him all day. The second is the running game. Yao is slower than dirt, Artest and McGrady don't move like they once did, and Scola isn't exactly fleet of foot. The starting lineup will have a gigantic advantage if they can get stops and push the ball.
I'd like to see EB in the game earlier tonight, and I'd like to see some half-court offense run through him. If he can get the ball with Artest, Scola or Battier guarding him, he should be able to do some serious damage. I'd like to see a statement game from Brand, actually. It seems as though everyone is willing to write him off two games into his return. I want to see him come out and say "I"m not done," with his play.
- How many minutes will Speights play?
- Will Lou's role be decreased if his terrible play continues?
- Will Theo get some burn to help defend Yao?