If you're into excuses, you'll have your pick tonight when the Sixers attempt to protect their home court minus their entire center rotation. If you're into wins, this team needs to find a way to make up for the absence of Hawes, Vucevic and possibly Brand and put the Wizards out of their misery, again.
It's already been confirmed the Voose and Hawes will miss tonight's game. Elton Brand is considered a game-time decision (with stomach problems). If those three guys are our, or even if Brand plays, the Sixers are probably going to have to make some schematic adjustments to take the Wizards down.
They're always an outside-in defense, meaning they focus their defense on their perimeter players. They use a lot of rotation, they close out on three-point shooters, they double down on the post, they switch a lot of things on the perimeter. This is all designed to keep guys out of the paint, and minimize the damage done by opposing bigs. I'm sure you've heard Doug Collins talk about keeping teams in the yard (the restricted area is the house, the three-point line is the fence, you want to keep their shots in between the two, so long twos). I think maybe tonight you worry a little bit less about guarding the three-point line, and focus a little bit more on the lane. If there was ever a team to do it against, it's the Wizards. Nick Young is currently leading the Wiz in three-point accuracy at 35.1%. Take a look at the percentages for the other guys on the team who attempted at least 8: John Wall, 0% on 8 attempts; Jordan Crawford, 29% on 51 attempts; Rashard Lewis, 24% on 33 attempts; Chris Singleton, 32% on 31 attempts; Shelvin Mack, 33% on 9 attempts; Roger Mason, 25% on 16 attempts. As a team, they shoot below 30% from three.
Obviously, you don't want to let guys like Young and even Rashard Lewis get wide-open corner threes, but at the same time, if you're having problems keeping the Wizards off the glass, or McGee's height is giving you fits, I'd think about really packing the defense in. Clog the lane, and live with the kick outs when you double McGee or slide over to cut off penetration.
I don't think Tony Battie has 30 minutes left in his legs, so no matter who plays, expect to see Lavoy Allen get some burn tonight. Expect to see Andres Nocioni see some time at the four. Hopefully, Collins will buy some time by using Iguodala at the four and Turner at the three. The key here should be finding creative ways to use combinations of the healthy perimeter guys to mask the dearth of able-bodied bigs. Iguodala can guard Andray Blatche and Trevor Booker. Turner, Iguodala and Jrue can team up to keep them competitive on the defensive glass. Go with the eccentric lineups, get by on the defensive ends, then attack on offense.
This game won't be as easy as it should've been, but those are the breaks in the NBA. It's imperative they find a way to pull this one out.
The tip is at 7pm. I'll be right here throughout. Join me if you want to see the Sixers play 3 guys who don't belong in the NBA vs. about 7 guys on the Wizards who shouldn't be in the NBA.
Prediction: PHI 94, WAS 80