Let's get the fatigue thing out of the way first. Here are the minutes played for the Sixers in last night's 20-point loss to the Heat:
- Iguodala: 35
- Jrue: 35
- Lou: 29
- Thad: 26
- Meeks: 25
- Brand: 23
- Turner: 23
- Allen: 19
- Battie: 17
- Vucevic: 5
- Elson: 4
I guess the bright side of getting blown out is you wind up with a relatively well-rested roster for the tough game the following night. Iguodala and Jrue can certainly handle 70 minutes in two nights, and no one else even played 30. Looking back, I think it's kind of strange Lou saw so many minutes considering how bad he was, but Meeks was in early foul trouble and Turner was ineffective, so I guess it makes sense.
Two keys to tonight's game, and they shouldn't come as a surprise considering how the Sixers beat the Hawks the last time they met. (1) Iguodala glued to Joe Johnson all night. Last time, Johnson could barely catch the ball, when he did, it was a contested jumper. He needs to be all over JJ right from the opening tip, and he probably will be. (2) Invite Josh Smith to shoot jumpers. Leave him wide open, hope he hits one or two early, because he'll keep shooting them, and he'll keep missing them.
Elton Brand has looked extremely tired over the past couple of games and he was complete non-factor last night vs. the Heat. The Hawks are a good matchup for him, especially with Collins out. He needs to get going early and score some points for this team tonight. Assuming Hawes is still nursing his injury, I'd like to see some more minutes for the Voose tonight. He played decently well against them last time the teams met and I'd like to see him work his way back into the rotation. If you recall, in their previous ATL game Jrue carved them up in the second half and finished with 16 points and 11 assists. He got off to a shaky start, and finished with 5 turnovers, but in the third quarter he was dishing like you wouldn't believe. Hopefully he can build on the distributing he did against Miami last night and lead this offense.
These are tough circumstances, to be sure, but the Sixers need to forget about the odds against them and concentrate on playing their game and righting the ship immediately. They've got a chance to finish this very tough week 3-1, they're playing a team they match up with very well. Get this win.
The tip is at 7pm. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout, join me if you've got revenge on your mind.
Prediction:, PHI 95, ATL 87