Way back on the eve of New Year's Eve, the Sixers blew a big lead to the Jazz in Utah. The shortened season was in its infancy, no one knew what to expect from the Sixers this year and the manner in which they lost was far too reminiscent of the failures of 2010-2011. After that game, the Sixers would go on a tear, putting the late/close failure out of our minds...until the same problems reared their ugly heads recently. Tonight, the Sixers have a chance to overwrite their first big failure of the season and build upon the momentum gained from humiliating Boston on Wednesday.
Utah's size absolutely overwhelmed the Sixers in Utah. Since that game, the Jazz have hovered right around .500 basically on the backs of their bigs. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors can and probably will cause problems again tonight on the inside and especially on the glass. If the Sixers are going to push their win streak to two, they need to take advantage of their dominance on the perimeter.
While it would be great to see Evan Turner repeat his performance from the other night, I'm actually kind of interested to see how the starting lineup handles it when he struggles. Will Turner be able to use his dribble to set other guys up if his shot isn't falling? Will the rest of the team be able to pick up the scoring load? Does his new ball-dominant role allow for that? The beauty of starting Jrue, Iguodala and Turner together is the unbelievable flexibility it provides. Three guys with great size who can handle the ball and initiate offense from anywhere on the floor. On paper, it's an awesome advantage for a team that hasn't really had an advantage on the offensive end from their starting five. I want to see if they can shift to the hot hand seamlessly on the fly. OK, I don't want to see them forced to do that tonight, I'd much prefer to see Turner put another 25 efficient points on the board.
Thad should be back in the lineup tonight, and they really have no answer for his quickness at the four. He's at a size disadvantage on the defensive end, so he really needs to be an offensive factor and work hard on the defensive glass. It'll be interesting to see how the new starting lineup does on the boards. You wouldn't think a change at PG/SG would impact team-wide rebounding all that much, but Turner is just so dominant on the glass. He goes in there and battles with seven footers regularly. We'll have to take a look at the team's defensive rebounding rate once he's got a decent amount of minutes in the starting lineup to see if he makes enough of a difference to overcome the shortcomings of Brand, Allen, Vucevic and Thad on the defensive glass.
Turner's development is an interesting distraction, and ultimately when you look beyond this season an important one, but the final score of tonight's game matters more. The win over Boston brought them back to .500 since the break and gave them their first win over a winning team in over a month. They need this win. They need to take the next two games and get the ball rolling downhill again before the schedule gets harder after the weekend. Just get it done, any way, any how.
The tip is at 7pm. I believe the game is on NBATV, but I'm not sure. Either way, game thread will land at 5. What do you guys think? Does Turner's confidence build knowing he's in the starting lineup, with the short leash removed and the freedom to play his game?