I know, I know, Willie was a good guy and in his last two seasons in Philly he wasn't nearly as destructive as he was earlier in his career, but I still think of the Willie trade as a watershed moment for this franchise.
New Orleans started the season on fire, but they've since sunk like a rock. They come into Philly having lost 7 of their last 10 games, and a couple of those losses came at the hands of truly awful teams. Chris Paul has been outstanding, as usual, but his supporting cast has completely let him down. Let's take a look at the matchups.
- PG: Jrue Holiday vs. Chris Paul
- SG: Jodie Meeks vs. Marco Belinelli
- SF: Andre Iguodala vs. Trevor Ariza
- PF: Elton Brand vs. David West
- C: Spencer Hawes vs. Emeka Okafor
Obviously, you pay the price of admission to see Chris Paul, and how Jrue Holiday handles him (or doesn't). On the other end, the Sixers should look to post Jrue up on CP3. It's going to be critical for Jrue to stay out of foul trouble, something he's struggled with this season. Two defensive keys: (1) Handling the P&R. David West loves to shoot jumpers off the pick-and-pop. I'd look to steer New Orleans in that direction, it's much better than the alternative. (2) Controlling the defensive glass. Okafor isn't exactly a dominant center, but he's more than capable of pushing Hawes around and grabbing a handful of offensive boards. I'd consider putting Brand on him.
On the offensive end, I think Brand will be able to work on West. It's kind of a shame that Meeks is starting at the two, because Belinelli is a terrible defender, but a catch-and-shoot guy like Meeks isn't really going to take advantage of that, not in the same way Iguodala (or the guy we hope Turner will eventually become) would. I'd like to see Turner get some burn when Belinelli is on the floor, or Willie for that matter.
Prediction: Sixers 96, Hornets 93
This is your game thread, I'll be at the game so please keep it civil. If you'll be at the game as well, I'm in section 113 down on the floor, stop by at the half to commiserate or rejoice. By the way, I'm going to keep predicting a close win until it happens.
My wrap will be up late tonight, probably after the Eagles game, this afternoon we'll have our weekly Sixers Around the Web column from GoSixers.