The Sixers will drag a four-game losing streak with them to Houston tonight to play the second night of a back-to-back against the 19-14 Houston Rockets. With Elton Brand sidelined again, is there any chance the Sixers can salvage a modicum of momentum heading into the All-Star break?
In the loss to the Grizzlies last night, Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday did a pretty good job on their men. Gay had 14 points (3/10 from the floor, 6/9 from the line), Conley only had 9 points (4/14 from the floor, 1/1 from the line). If they're going to have any hope against the Rockets tonight, they need to repeat those results against Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin.
Luis Scola has taken a giant leap backward as a productive offensive player, meaning he's gone from being uber-efficient to below average. He's an undersized, crafty PF who doesn't play a lick of defense, but he's also more than capable of getting healthy against the Sixers' front line. We all know Dalembert, and I certainly wouldn't be shocked to see him to pull a 20/20 game out against his former mates tonight. The Rockets have four threats from deep in their regular rotation (Lowry, Martin, Budinger and Courtney Lee). With Scola's regression, though, they don't have anyone down low who you need to worry about doubling. Lowry has really been their engine this season, though his numbers have dropped off recently.
The key matchup is probably going to be Jrue vs. Lowry. He needs to keep Lowry out of the paint, and maybe even more importantly, he needs to keep Lowry off the glass. Houston's PG is a very, very physical player. Jrue is one of the few PGs in the league w/ the strength to stand up to that. I hope Jrue got some sleep on the plane. At no point in this game do I want to see Lou covering Lowry.
What more can you say besides get this win at all costs. You've got five full off days to rest, recuperate and hopefully iron some things out in practice. Leave it all out on the floor, because the last thing Andre Iguodala wants to take with him to Orlando is a five-game losing streak.
Houston was off last night, Iguodala (41) and Jrue (36) both played heavy minutes for the Sixers last night. Thad was the only other guy over 30 minutes played, with 32.
No word yet on whether the Nocioni-as-starter experiment has officially been scrapped. I wouldn't put it past Collins to match Nocioni up with Scola, but after last night's results, I'd say the smart money is on Battie starting at the five, or maybe Thad at the four. We'll have to wait and see.
The tip is at 8pm, Eastern. This is your game thread/preview all wrapped up into one. I'll be here throughout. Join me if you're hoping watching basketball can be fun again heading into the break.