The Mavs are probably going to have to rely heavily on their aged starting back court of Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. Dominique Jones is the only other active guard on their roster. Pushing the pace tonight would be a good idea, as would pressing the Mavs whenever Kid is off the floor.
I'd love to see Jrue attack Kidd off the dribble, but he may not get the chance. Apparently, the Mavs have been using a cross match scheme to put Shawn Marion on opposing point guards. Unfortunately, the Mavs can probably get away with doing this against the Sixers' starting lineup. Carter would take Iguodala and Kidd can take Meeks. If this is the case, I'd like to see the Sixers do a couple of things on the offensive end: (1) Get into their offense early, run a quick play. One of the big drawbacks of using a cross match is that it's difficult to find your man in early offense. If the Sixers push the ball up, they could wind up with some big mismatches. (2) Wear out Jason Kidd. If he's on Meeks, his job can be made extremely easy if Meeks is just hanging out on the perimeter looking for passes, or it can be made extremely tiring if Meeks is constantly running Kidd through a series of screens. Choose the latter.
Two really tough matchups on the defensive end for the Sixers, and they're both at PF. I actually like Iguodala on Dirk, but doubt Collins will use it much. It'll probably be Brand initially, which is a bad matchup. Thad hasn't had a ton of success in the past, but he's been a different defender this year so we'll have to see how that goes. Lamar Odom has always given the Sixers all kinds of problems, so I wouldn't put a ton of stock into his disappointing numbers on the season. He could definitely get healthy tonight.
The Sixers can't be surprised if Dallas goes to a zone. If they do, a big needs to flash to the foul line, the wings need to cut off him and the guys on the perimeter need to knock down their threes.
Press the advantages you have, try to make the Mavs play to their weaknesses and keep the energy up for 48 minutes.
The tip is at 8pm. How about putting on a show for the first national audience of the year? This is your game thread. Join me if you're psyched the Sixers will be on ESPN and you won't have to hear Mark Jackson calling the game.
Prediction: PHI 97, DAL 90