The last time the Sixers "lucked" into a dominant big man, things didn't work out quite as expected. Elton Brand played hard for the Sixers and was a consummate professional, but his time in Philly will never be considered a success. Tonight, he brings his talents back to Broad Street so Josh Harris and Co. can pay him roughly $16M to play against the Sixers with the Mavs.
I really don't want to draw any parallels from Brand's first season in Philly to Bynum's, because they'r'e different situations in terms of the team's long-term outlook, but if Bynum doesn't play a game this year...
Anyway, let's not focus on the home team who's missing its best player, instead let us focus on the visitors, without Dirk Nowitzki.
Without Dirk, the Mavs are a terrible team. Their record says otherwise, but they're just awful. 7-7 is beyond a miracle for this squad. They've kept themselves at .500 on the back of two new additions, O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman. Mayo is playing completely out of his mind. He's gone from being an inefficient gunner who contributes zero in other ways to an efficient gunner who contributes zero in other areas. Kaman has gone from one of the most inefficient big men in the league, to an efficiently weak big man. Heading into a game against a team who is treading water on the back of what look like two flukes makes you scratch your head. If you're going by their career numbers, you'd just say let Mayo shoot himself in the foot and let Kaman take as many 15-footers as he wants, but I guess you have to game plan for the streak.
This is the type of game where having Iguodala would be a luxury. Put him on Mayo, clamp down, and let the Mavs try to find offense elsewhere. Tonight, they'll just have to make due. It starts with pressure on the ball. Jrue should own Collison on both ends of the floor tonight, anything less is unacceptable. Up front, the Mavs rely on Kaman, Brand and Brandon Wright for the majority of their minutes. So a couple of old jump shooters and a live body. Keep them off the offensive glass.
One interesting thing to keep an eye on tonight is whether Brand gives a few hard fouls to one of his former teammates. I'm not sure how the amnesty sat with him, nor how he feels about his former mates. We do know he isn't shy about laying the wood on drivers when his legs won't allow him to get in front. Thad should use his tremendous quickness advantage to abuse Brand in space.
The tip is at 7pm. Use this as your game thread. Get this win, then enjoy a couple off days before the Bobcats come in on Friday night.
Here's a trivia question to research throughout the day, two parts (question came in an e-mail from a reader named Tom):
1: Who was the last Sixer to play his entire career for the Sixers? (Minimum five years, current players not included)
2: How many such players have the Sixers had in their history?