The Sixers key players got to take the fourth quarter off last night, then sleep in their own beds while the Pistons were busy blowing a lead to the Hawks in Atlanta, then had to catch a late flight to arrive in Philly for tonight's game. The Sixers need to press that advantage early and never take their foot off the gas.
If you didn't read last night's recap, go there to see my fears heading into this game. On the floor, Greg Monroe is the biggest problem. I read late last night Spencer Hawes may be back for tonight's game, and I guess he certainly wouldn't hurt even if he's just a tall guy to get in Monroe's way around the hoop, but he's not the answer for stopping a big man with some moves, as he's displayed throughout his career.
Both teams are playing the tail end of a back-to-back, here's the breakdown of minutes for key players last night:
- Greg Monroe: 42 minutes
- Brandon Knight: 42 minutes
- Rodney Stuckey:41 minutes
- Jodie: 33 minutes
- Jrue: 31 minutes
- Iguodala: 27 minutes
- Thad: 24 minutes
- Turner: 22 minutes
- Brand: 21 minutes
- Lou: 21 minutes
There are a couple of ways I'd look to press these advantages. First, I'd go super-small early in the game with Thad at the five. Make Monroe sprint up and down the floor, he can't have much left in the tank after last night. You can also wear him out when Detroit has the ball by fronting him, and doubling hard when he gets the ball on the blocks (They have four guys who are shooting the three pretty well: Knight, Stuckey, Gordon and Prince. Prince and Gordon both missed last night's game). If Ben Wallace is in the game, I'd look to send the other big to double him, of course, I don't think you can go super-small with both Wallace and Monroe in the game.
Another way to press the advantage also begins on the defensive end. Extend your defense out on both Stuckey and Knight. Make them work to get the ball from half-court to the three-point line, wear their legs out. I'd also look to run whoever is guarding Meeks through several screens each time down the floor, like Indy used to do with Reggie Miller. It doesn't even matter if the play is being run for Meeks, just have him going back and forth on the baseline, make Stuckey or Knight (whoever's guarding him), fight through a couple of screens and run sideline to sideline over and over again.
If the Sixers can jump out to an early lead and put some more wear and tear on Detroit's trio of tired players, I suspect this one will be over early. Unless, of course, the come in with a swollen head and little motivation to the dirty work for extra possessions and extra rotations.
The tip is at 7pm. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout holding my breath until I see the first Sixer on the floor after a loose ball.