Over the three-day break the Sixers found out their PG is headed to the All Star game, their wounded center started working on post moves and the memory of their most recent forgettable stretch of basketball has faded a bit. Tonight, the Knicks bring their first place team to the WFC for a big division game. The Sixers need a win.
A big key for the Sixers tonight is going to be how the bigs handle the Tyson Chandler pick and roll. It's even more important, because the Sixers won't be able to use their only legit P&R defender in those situations at all. With the Knicks starting Carmelo Anthony at the four, Thad Young is going to be removed from the P&R equation entirely. His focus needs to be on Melo the entire night. That means Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes are going to have to find a way to stop the dives and lobs to Chandler, something they've been terrible at their entire careers. Once again, the best idea is to leave Jrue on an island. The bigs need to lag off the P&R to the point where Jrue at least isn't fighting through the picker and the Sixer big. The good news is Raymond Felton has been horrible and this is his first game back from injury.
There are a couple of things I do not want to see from Even Turner tonight. #1, I don't want Turner guarding Jason Kidd at all. If he does, he's going to completely lose Kidd and we're going to see wide-open threes from all over the floor. Put the other wing on Kidd. #2, I don't want to see Turner initiating offense when Shumpert is guarding him. Shumpert's a good on-ball defender, Turner's going to be backing him down from 30 feet out, keeping the Sixers from getting into their offense until there's 10 seconds left on the clock. Get Turner the ball closer to the hoop, not in space where the pesky defender can bother him.
Big key to tonight's game is making Melo work in transition and on the defensive end. He's going to have to guard Thad, which means Thad should be sprinting from the defensive end to the offensive end every time Melo takes a long two or a three. There are going to be opportunities for long passes frequently, but more importantly, when Thad beats Melo down the floor, he can beat him to the spot for position in the post. Feed him down there and make Melo play physical defense near the hoop. You might get him into foul trouble, or you might be able to get New York to go big, which would be in your favor. The key is that you can't forget about Thad. He's going to be working his ass off to limit Melo's scoring, make Melo work just as hard on both ends, see if you can wear him out.
Jason Richardson is a question mark, if Wright gets the start in his place, the Sixers have a big size advantage somewhere in the back court, try to take advantage of it.
The tip is at 7pm. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout, join me if you'd really like to see some good basketball for a change (and you hate the Knicks with a passion).