The little guy is back. The Wach is sold out. The coach is supposedly going to start the correct lineup (good), but he's letting Iverson decide his own minutes (bad). Willie Green is the gift that keeps on giving and so, so much more. Your preview and game thread after the jump.
Let's get to the most important thing about tonight's game first: Willie Green has completely effed the most dramatic storyline of tonight's game against the Nuggets. Jrue Holiday will miss his second consecutive game, so we won't get to see him smother Ty Lawson. To all you Lawson devotees, I don't want to hear anything about him shredding Willie Green or Allen Iverson. That's like playing against the School for the Blind (my apologies to any SFTB players out there, that analogy really wasn't fair to you guys).
Seriously, though. We've been properly whipped into a frenzy over AI's triumphant return. The place is sold out, the excitement level is at a one-year high. Too bad this isn't a winnable game, huh?
The Nuggets are far too good, far too efficient on the offensive end, I don't care how much of an emotional bump the Sixers get from AI's return, the odds are super, super long on an upset.
That being said, let's look at the matchups:
Iverson vs. Billups - Advantage Billups. He's a PG who will (a) take smaller defenders down on the blocks (b) spot up for killer threes if teams are slow to rotate, (c) pick on favorable matchups. He's got AI on him to start, the Sixers are probably the worst team at rotating in the league and he's got Thad on Melo. Huge advantage Denver. If Iverson could use his speed to get Billups into foul trouble, I'd feel a lot better about this game.
Iguodala vs. Aflalo - Advantage Sixers, no matter what Eddie Jordan tells you.
Thad vs. Melo - The best we can hope for here is that Thad keeps the point differential between them close. Like 30 to 23 would be a good split here, in favor of Melo.
Brand vs. Kenyon Martin - Perceived bust vs. epic bust. I'm actually liking this matchup for Brand. K-Mart doesn't have the size to bother Brand much on the blocks and he's an over-aggressive help defender. AI and EB could run the pick-and-pop to perfection.
Sammy vs. Nene - Nene is like a bull in a china shop sometimes, if he brings that type of energy we're going to find out early if Sammy came to play. He needs to muscle up, keep Nene off the glass and handle him on the blocks without help. He's capable, if motivated.
Willie, Kapono, Smith, Carney, Ivey vs. A real bench - I think this is where the game is lost. Lawson, J.R. Smith and Chris Anderson all fill a certain role, and they do it very well. Even if our witless coach could handle the rotations in a smart way, the deficit here is just too great.
The starters should have a chance at keeping it close, but the bench minutes will probably do the Sixers in. I'll admit it, I'm excited to see Iverson step on the court, I'm also kind of sad that he's going to have to face a really good team in his first game back.
Key to The Game: Bench play.
If _______________ the Sixers will win: Iverson = lightning in a bottle.
This is your game thread, I'll be here throughout, join me if you aren't going to the game. (Notice I didn't mention horrible team defense once the entire post?)