The Rockets are making a late-season push for the playoffs, and while it will most likely fail, they are a very motivated squad these days. Unfortunately, for them, they played last night. They tuned up the Nets, so they didn't need to overextend themselves, but still, it's the second night of a back-to-back, and that should be taken into account.
As for this game, well, the first key is going to be how Jrue handles Kyle Lowry. Lowry exploded the last time the teams met, they need to do a much better job on him, and they can't be lazy on the pick and roll with him. He's become an effective three-point shooter and he certainly isn't shy about putting them up. I'm looking forward to seeing Iguodala guard Kevin Martin, and I'm assuming we will see that matchup. Last time, they started Iguodala on Battier and Doug Collins had to go to Evan Turner earlier than he would've liked to allow Iguodala to play Martin (Turner has enough size to take away the post-up for Battier, which Meeks doesn't). Well, Battier is gone now, so Collins can just put Meeks on Chase Budinger and be done with it.
I spent pretty much all of my ink here talking about how to slow down the Houston offensive attack because their offense is very potent. They're 3rd in the league in OFR and they've got a deep team with plenty of weapons. Of course, what I've ignored to this point is the extent to which their defense is horrible. Lowry is passable, Battier is gone and Chuck Hayes is tenacious, otherwise, they're a team full of disinterested defenders. Their best defender is probably their 6'6" center. You can legitimately attack at least three guys at any time, sometimes you can attack all five. Let's put it this way, if the Sixers lose this game because they couldn't find a way to score, they simply weren't trying.
- PG: Jrue Holiday vs. Kyle Lowry
- SG: Jodie Meeks vs. Kevin Martin
- SF: Andre Iguodala vs. Chase Budinger
- PF: Elton Brand vs. Luis Scola
- C: Spencer Hawes vs. Chuck Hayes
This preview/game thread landed early because I'll be in the air on my way home for most of the day. I will, however, be home for the 7pm tip, and I'll be right here with you guys to watch the Sixers get their 39th win of the season.
Prediction: PHI 113, HOU 101