Even though the loss occurred only a little over two months ago, the Sixers have seemingly undergone two transformations since dropping a game in Utah. They rode the wave of success out to a 20-9 record, then fell back to Earth over an 11-game stretch. Now they've committed to Iguodala, Turner and Holiday as their starting perimeter threesome. Can they avenge an early-season failure? Let's find out.
Beyond seeing if Evan Turner can come close to reproducing the success he enjoyed against the Celtics on Wednesday, tonight's game is going to be about how the Sixers can handle a front court which physically dwarfs their own. Al Jefferson has had a ton of success against the Sixers, the key is to push him as far from the hoop as you can, and just let him use 20 shots to score his 20 points. He rarely turns the ball over, so doubling probably isn't a good solution. Just don't let him get good position underneath and don't let him get cheap points on the offensive glass.
It'll be interesting to see if Collins puts Evan Turner on Devin Harris, or if that was more of a matchup-specific decision with Rondo in the Boston game. I expect to see Vucevic back in the starting lineup with Thad back in his usual role off the bench.
This is absolutely an important game. Oddly, a win will go down as just another win against a sub-.500 team, while a loss would be another black mark against a winning team (UTA is 19-19 coming into the game). But beyond the larger trend, the Sixers need to put this W on the board and back it up with another on Sunday to build up some cushion before playing three really tough games next week at Indy on Wednesday, then a home/away back-to-back against the Heat and at the Bulls next Friday/Saturday. They have to get this one tonight.
The tip is at 7pm (on NBATV for the out-of-towners). This is your game thread. I'll be right here throughout. Join me if you feel like we're watching the beginning of something (JTI dominance?) or maybe the end of something (This core group's last chance to prove they can work together before major changes are made). Either way, it should be fun.
Prediction: PHI 105, UTA 93. Utah's defense is suspect and the Sixers have been scoring pretty well for the past week or so.