The last time the Sixers played in Chicago, they put forth possibly their best effort in the Doug Collins era. The starters jumped out to a 9-point lead in the first and their defense absolutely smothered Derrick Rose and Co. It was on the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, and the Sixers dug deep to put the Bulls away. Tonight, they need to recapture that focus and intensity after a tough loss to the Heat at home.
It's a pretty simple equation. If the Sixers play like they did in the second half last night against the Heat, they have a shot. If they play like they did in either half against Indy, or in the first half last night against the Heat. They're going to lose. They completely lost their identity, especially on the defensive end, for about 72 minutes of basketball. If they haven't rediscovered it, you can pretty much forget about getting this win, no matter who does or doesn't suit up for the Bulls.
The arrival of Sam Young last night was coupled with a shift in Doug Collins rotations (possibly in anticipation of having Young available). Where Collins had been going to a perimeter trio of Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks and Evan Turner for stretches to get rest for Iguodala and Jrue, instead he went with Iguodala, Williams and Meeks last night. The latter trio fits better, in my opinion, because Iguodala is much better at playing off the ball, and Williams winds up handling most of the time with that group. Eventually, I think we'll probably see Young out there in that arrangement, so Iguodala and Turner can rest at the same time and Collins can steal some minutes for his starters on the perimeter.
If you're worried about tired legs, Iguodala played 40 minutes last night, Turner 35, Thad 31 and no one else cracked 30. They should be fairly fresh.
Three keys to this game, in my mind: (1) Iguodala needs to recover from two bad outings on the defensive end. With or without Rose, he can't let Deng go off. (2) Jrue needs to snap out of it. He played like bad Lou last night, dribbling the air out of the ball, only looking for his own shot that clearly wasn't falling. Get back to running offense when it's your turn, stop thinking score first. (3) Spencer Hawes will be starting and playing his reduced-minute role at the five. Since he came back, his softness seems to have infected the rest of the center rotation. Toughen up, or the Bulls bigs are going to eat the Sixers alive on the offensive glass.
The tip is at 8pm. This is your game thread. Join me if you're dying for the Sixers to get one of these three games.
Prediction: PHI 97, CHI 89