It's New Year's Eve, and much to the chagrin of my patient wife, that must mean the Sixers have a game on the west coast. This year, they're in Oakland to play the Warriors. On the second night of a back-to-back, this young team needs to bounce back in a big way against a rested squad.
Monta Ellis probably won't be playing tonight, he's been excused to attend a funeral. Steph Curry, however, is expected to suit up despite rolling his ankle twice since the beginning of the preseason.
Early returns on Mark Jackson's coaching career have been surprisingly good. The Warriors have beaten the Bulls and Knicks at home, and despite playing three solid offensive teams, their defensive efficiency rating is 11th in the league. They've slowed their pace considerably and utilized some odd strategies on the defensive end, but so far, they've worked. On the offensive end, they've been pretty bad, but they've done just enough to get wins.
In years past, you could concentrate on getting back on defense and pushing the issue on offense and Golden State would buckle. If the trend we've seen through the first three games for the Warriors turns out to be more than smoke and mirrors, the Sixers will have to play a better, smarter game to come out with a win tonight.
Not having Ellis may or may not be a detriment to the Warriors, considering Brandon Rush will replace him, and Rush has been the Warriors best player thus far. I'm going with two keys for this game (1) Attack Curry. If he's guarding Jrue, I want to see Jrue in the post, and I want to see Jrue running pure pick-and-rolls (or pick-and-pops, since the Sixer bigs can't finish a roll to save their lives). Make Curry the point of emphasis on the defensive end. (2) Limit the hustle plays for their bigs. Keep Biedrins off the offensive glass, and foul him when he gets a point blank look at the hoop. No dunks for Biedrins or Kwamee. Play tough up front.
Here's a quick look at the minute distribution last night in Utah, keep this in mind when you see Collins' rotations tonight:
- Iguodala: 39
- Hawes: 38
- Holiday: 37
- Brand: 29
- Lou: 29
No one else played more than than 22 minutes.
The tip is at 9pm, Eastern. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout, desperately trying to forget about the game in Utah. Join me if you want to ring in the New Year with a win. If you're out and about tonight, be safe and have a great time.