The Sixers had no chance against the Spurs. Zero. San Antonio is a well-oiled machine, completely disciplined up and down the roster. If the Sixers played them 100 times, they'd lose 99, or more. Houston is a different animal. An unformed juggernaut with more than one Achilles heel. Can the Sixers take advantage? Probably not.
Two keys to beating the Rockets. Foul. Foul early, foul often and most importantly, foul the right people. Houston starts Dwight Howard (47.1% from the line) and Omer Asik (57.7%). Once Houston gets into the penalty, use all your fouls on those guys. Don't let James Harden (84.3%) make his living from the stripe. Double Harden, get the ball out of his hands, and hack away at the two bigs. Obviously, you don't have enough fouls to do this every time down the floor, but 25-30 FTs for Howard and Asik would be a good start if you're looking for an upset.
Houston's other huge problem is turnovers. Their starting five alone average 15 turnovers/game. For this game, I'd completely forget about straight up defense designed to force them into bad shots or limit the damage. Completely sell out with pressure. Go for steals, use traps, play the passing lanes, send doubles early and often. If the Sixers are going to have any prayer, they need to force somewhere around 20 turnovers and they need to get into the open floor whenever they do. Houston also plays at a fast pace (8th in the league, the Sixers are currently 4th), push that pace even more. Run off makes, run off misses, speed Houston up even more, create more transition opportunities, take advantage of them.
It's going to have to be an out-of-control game for the Sixers to have a chance. In the half-court, Hawes needs to be hitting his shots from the outside to loosen up the middle a little bit, get one of those bigs out of the paint. I assume we'll see Asik on Hawes and Howard on Thad, which should be interesting, to say the least.
I'm assuming MCW will be matched up with Harden on the defensive end. Great test for the kid. Something else worth keeping an eye on is Evan Turner. He turned in his first Evan Turner-esque line of the year against the Spurs the other night (20 points on 20 FGA, 2 FTA), will it be a blip or is the hot start coming to an end? Only time will tell.
The tip is at 7. I'll be here. Join me if you've got nothing better to do.