Friday night's game in Philly had a playoff atmosphere. This afternoon, the tail end of the home-and-home series will feature the strategic element of a playoff series. D'Antoni and Collins both saw what these teams had to offer, and they had Saturday to make adjustments. Matchups, splits, brief preview and moderator-free game thread to follow.
Game capsules: Game 1
(@NYK), Game 2
- PG: Jrue Holiday vs. Raymond Felton
- SG: Jodie Meeks vs. Landry Fields
- SF: Andre Iguodala vs. Danilo Gallinari
- PF: Elton Brand vs. Amare Stoudemire
- C: Spencer Hawes vs. Timofey Mozgov
As for the preview portion, well, what do we really need to say? We just saw these teams on Friday. It's pretty clear that the Sixers need to encourage New York to play their style of basketball. Push the ball at every opportunity and let D'Antoni figure out why his team isn't capable of getting back on defense. The Sixers have the athletes to play that tempo, they have the playmakers to get the ball to the right guy in transition. Don't walk the ball up the floor. On the defensive end, they need to be more aggressive against the pick-and-roll, don't let Felton get the corner over the screen, and don't give him wide-open looks from three by going under. The bigs need to hedge and recover, or just double him hard. Most important on the defensive end, though, is to keep the Knicks off the offensive glass. Everyone needs to crash the defensive glass, the Sixers don't need leak-outs to get points in transition, they can simply push the ball with the dribble and still get an advantage. No second and third chance points for the Knicks, that has to be the goal.
You probably noticed a change in the starting lineup for the Knicks above, Mozgov was impressive for the Knicks on Friday night. Keeping him off the offensive glass especially needs to be a priority. If Hawes isn't getting it done, Battie or Speights should get early minutes.
I'm hoping for a good scoring game from Jrue. He really hasn't had one in quite a while and it sort of feels like he's being left out of the party. It would be great to see him step up and score 20 or more in a Sixers win, but the win is really the only important part of that equation. A win today, and the Sixers own the tie-breaker over the Knicks, which could be very important. They already locked up the tie-breaker over Charlotte, who is directly below them at 8th in the conference.
PHI 108, NYK 100, the Knicks are reeling, I think it stays that way.
The tip is at noon (section 107 if you happen to be in attendance). This is your game thread, I'll actually be at the Garden, so you guys are on your own. Keep it civil (or at least as civil as we usually keep it), and above all, enjoy this Sixers game, which is obviously the most-important sporting event of the day.