One is a fluke. Two is a coincidence. Three? Well, if you twist my arm I'll admit you can call three a streak. No, I'm not talking about wins, they're beside the point right now. What I'm talking about is three straight games with Jrue Holiday playing down the stretch and some reasonable lineups being played throughout. The biggest question in my mind is whether Eddie Jordan will stick to his revised philosophy against a team who loves to spread the floor like the Knicks.
I'm torn on the subject. Left to his own devices, I don't think we would've seen what we saw over the past two games, but I can't prove it wasn't Jordan himself making the adjustments. So if I think the order was handed down from above, there's no reason to believe Jordan's strings would be pulled in another direction tonight. On the other hand, if Jordan suddenly saw the light on his own vs. Detroit and New Orleans, what are the odds he has the fortitude to stick with it against the Knickerbockers?
It's all too confusing for me, so I'll just look at the matchups as presented by the starting fives.
- Duhon vs. Iverson - Duhon is having a pretty indescribable season. Horrible FG%, decent 3pt%, decent amount of assists and low turnovers. I'm going to guess this will be a matchup on both ends of the floor. Duhon is a decent defender, if memory serves, but Iverson should still be able to do what he's been doing well for the Sixers: take open jumpers, create for the bigs. I'll say advantage Sixers here.
- Wilson Chandler vs. Lou Williams - Bad, bad matchup for both teams on the defensive end. Lou should be able to get by him off the dribble. Chandler has a tremendous size advantage. Advantage Sixers, simply because New York doesn't have any kind of inside presence on defense, if you beat your man on the perimeter, you should be able to get all the way to the hoop. Chandler in the post doesn't frighten me nearly as much.
- Danilo Gallinari vs. Andre Iguodala - Gallinari averages almost 8 three point attempts per 36 minutes. He is not cut from the Jason Kapono mold, he doesn't need to be wide open to pull the trigger and he's hitting better than 40% of his attempts. Iguodala needs to be locked on him tonight and really can't afford to freelance and help out his fellow defenders. Stick to him like glue. On the other end, the Italian doesn't have a prayer of doing anything against Iguodala. Again, the focus for AI9 should be to use his dribble to get into the paint, not to back Gallinari off to create room for 20-foot jumpers. Advantage Sixers.
- Jared Jeffries vs. Thad Young - Jeffries produces very, very little in terms of tangible stats. He's long, so he can disrupt players on the defensive end. Thad won't have his typical quickness mismatch at the position. The Knicks could win this matchup if Thad is intent on taking a ton of shots and they aren't falling (which has been the case recently), and Jeffries is merely a non-factor on the offensive end.
- David Lee vs. Sam Dalembert - Lee doesn't do much of anything on the defensive end but grabs rebounds like it's his job. Sammy needs to work extra, extra hard to keep him off the offensive glass. Lee is also stretching his game out to the long two, and shooting pretty well from 16-23 feet (45% on 4.2 attempts/game), so Sam may get sucked out there and keep an eye on the pick-and-pop with Lee playing the LaMarcus Aldridge role (although shooting it much better than LA does). Sammy has been a beast recently, but I'm giving this one to the Knicks as well. Call it a gut feeling, Sammy has a lot going on in his life right now.
- Bench - Here's the kicker. Eddie Jordan was so worried about the intense defensive pressure applied to by Nate Robinson in the preseason he decided to shield his rookie PG from the experience. Jrue was a DNPCD when the teams met on Halloween as well. Has Jrue matured enough to go up against Nate? We'll have to wait and see. EB has a tremendous advantage on the offensive end over every single player on the Knicks roster, as does Marreese Speights, we'll see if they can carry the scoring load. Al Harrington will probably cause some problems with his willingness to shoot the three (if not his effectiveness). Overall, EB is pretty much always going to make your bench an advantage (and your starting lineup a glaring weakness) so we'll go advantage Sixers here.
The Knicks shoot a ton of threes, though they don't shoot them particularly well (33.9%). The oddity is that their opponents don't shoot very many threes against them at all, and they shoot an extremely poor percentage (30.9%). The low number of attempts is probably due to the fact that you can get into the lane and do damage against NY without much resistance, but that doesn't explain the low percentage of makes. It's kind of hard to explain.
This was the only game I had the Sixers winning in our last SixersBeat show, so I'll stick with that prediction.
Key to The Game: Points in the paint. Get a whole lot of them.
If __________ the Sixers will win: I'm going to say limit the damage from deep, especially from guys like Harrington (29%), Larry Hughes (28%) and Wilson Chandler (28%).
This is your game thread, I'll be right here throughout so join me if you wish your salary was determined by points-per-game alone.
If anyone is interested in donating to the cause in Haiti, you can do so through Sam Dalembert's foundation, click here to help out.