In front of a quaint crowd at the Wachovia Center tonight the third-worst team in the league will play host to the fourth-worst. Philadelphia's 29th-ranked defense will be tasked with stopping the 21st-ranked offense, while Golden State's 23rd-ranked defense will try to keep the 20th-ranked Sixers O in check. Jump for the preview, keys to the game and your oh-so-efficient game thread.
Just as an FYI, the rankings on the front page in efficiency, not points-per-game. The Warriors are a prime example of why PPG is a horrible metric for judging a team's abilities. GSW averages 107.2 points scored per game, the Sixers average 96.2, yet the Sixers are actually the more efficient offensive team (by a hair.) Golden State also allows 111.4 points per to 101.3 per game allowed by the Sixers, yet the Sixers rank much lower in defensive efficiency. As always, pace is the key. GSW pushes the ball mercilessly, averaging 101.2 possessions per game (1st in the league). The Sixers play at a snail's pace, 90.7 possessions/game (mostly thanks to strong offensive rebounding and horrible defensive rebounding.)
As TK76 said in the comments earlier today, Golden State is Philly's upside. Meaning, if Eddie Jordan has his way, the Sixer will someday be as good as a 7-16 team.
GSW runs an insane small starting lineup with Mikki Moore at the five, Vlad Radmanovic at the four and some combination of Steph Curry, Monta Ellis, Anthony Morrow and/or CJ Watson at the 1,2,3. The only guy on their roster who even projects as a decent rebounder/defender is Anthony Randolph, who only gets about 20 minutes/game (Biedrins is out). Moore and Radmanovic are both pitiful rebounders for the position. Honestly, this is probably the saddest group of defensive players you'll ever find on one roster, yet they're still better than the Sixers.
But I digress, the point is, the Sixers big lineup should have absolutely no problem scoring at will against this bunch. Elton Brand can overpower everyone on their roster, and he should be the focal point of the offense. That mismatch must be punished to the point where GSW is forced to adjust, if they can. Of course, I don't think there's any chance this will actually happen because Eddie Jordan is going to be foolish enough to match the Warriors small lineup with one of his own. Let's be clear for a second, the Sixers small lineup absolutely, positively cannot score with the Warriors. They have three excellent shooters from distance, including the best jump shooter I've ever seen in Anthony Morrow (I'm dead serious about this).
Golden State is very beatable, you can rough them up in the paint, you can dominate them on the glass. The one thing this Sixers team is not capable of doing is out-shooting them.
That being said, I've got this one down as a resounding loss. Jordan will do the opposite of everything I've said in this post, seeing the Warriors' small lineup as a perfect opportunity to get his own, much-preferred, small lineup out there so Kapono and Willie can jack threes and pat each other on the back for playing zero defense.
Key to the Game: Staying glued to Morrow, Watson and Curry, in that order. Playing Iguodala on Ellis without fail.
If _______________ the Sixers will win: 25+ points for Brand
Blatant Mismatches Jordan will ignore: Morrow, Watson, Curry or Ellis trying to guard Thad. The same list trying to guard Iguodala. Radmanovic trying to guard Brand.
Potential Game-Changing Sub, which won't happen: Holiday first guard off the bench to pressure the ball and make it difficult for GSW to get into their early offense.
This is your game thread, barring another transit nightmare, I will be joining you throughout, be here or...eh. Just be here.