Just when I thought tonight's Sixers game in Orlando would hold little mystery (or interest, for that matter) Doug Collins throws another monkey wrench
into the starting lineup. Out: Nikola Vucevic. In: Thaddeus Young. Brand will slide to the five. Exciting stuff, folks!
This latest version of the starting lineup (Brand, Thad, Iguodala, Meeks, Holiday) will make the Sixers smaller and more athletic. Injuries to both Dwight Howard and Glen Davis will allow Collins to put Thad in there without worry of a big bruiser taking him down on the blocks (Ryan Anderson is a perimeter four). Given the struggles the Sixers have suffered through over the past couple of months, you might've expected Collins to go to this alignment earlier, but better late than never, I suppose.
The hidden masterstroke behind this move is something you won't see reported elsewhere. While moving Thad to the starting lineup may seem like a good way to get some offensive punch in there at the beginning, which could be seen as a good thing, considering how hard it's been for the starting unit to score, this move opens a significant door for Doug Collins as he attempts to grind his roster down as much as possible heading into the playoffs (maybe). You see, starting Thad at the four keeps Spencer Hawes in his role as first big off the bench, but it doesn't inject Vucevic ahead of him. This means, on the first night of a back-to-back-to-back, Collins can again trim his rotation down to eight, instead of the nine he's been forced to use with Vucevic in there as a starter. It's a small wrinkle, but extremely important that Collins at least has the ability to completely kill all of his important players by Thursday. Kudos.
I'd love to be able to muster a paragraph or two about how important this game is, and potential changes in playoff seeding if the Sixers can manage a win, but really, what's the point? There's no sense of urgency coming from the players, and absent that, basically all hope is lost.
The tip is at 7pm. This is your game thread. I'm going to put myself through it, so why shouldn't you?
Prediction: If they show up, they'll win. If they don't, they won't.