The Sixers, a team that's thin up front even when at full strength, will take on the Memphis Grizzlies on the road tonight without the services of either of their starting big men. Elton Brand loses another game to a thumb injury, his replacement...
...none other than Andres Nocioni! Collins is loathe to take Thad out of his starring role off the bench, and he won't start rookies next to each other up front, so I guess that leaves a choice between a small lineup shifting Iguodala to the four or a small lineup with the mullet at the four. He's decided to dust Nocioni off and go with the latter.
The starting lineup isn't as meaningful as the minute distribution. I guess Collins' logic is he'll roll the dice with Nocioni, and go to Thad early if he implodes. The big problem is just the general lack of depth up front. A team fighting for a top-three seed in the East really shouldn't be trotting out a late second-round pick and Andres Nocioni as its starting C/PF combo.
The Griz are on the second night of a back-to-back. Last night they lost to the Rockets, in Houston. Memphis had to call on some of their big guys for heavy minutes: Gay (41), Gasol (38), Conley (40), even Speights played 30 minutes. It would be great if the Sixers could exploit their tired legs.
The key stat is the turnovers. The Sixers need to continue taking superb care of the ball against the team that forces the most turnovers in the league, and really needs those easy points to keep their offense at least comfortably below average, instead of at the very bottom of the league.
The tip is at 8pm. This is your game thread. Join me if you're going to watch, but maybe you really don't want to if it means suffering through Nocioni right from the opening tip.
Prediction: PHI 85, MEM 82