The Sixers need to make a statement tonight. Think back to January 1st. Since that date, the Sixers have played 23 games and compiled a 14-9 record. Good, but not great. Now consider that in that time they've only lost 2 games to teams with worse records than they have. One of those losses was the now infamous 0-18 disaster against the Nets. Tonight's game is about making two statements: 1) We are a much, much better team than the Nets; 2) The past 23 games have not been a fluke.
After the jump we'll take a quick look at the stats, take a look at a few key match-ups and host the in-game discussion.
The stats are a familiar story, let's hope they can rewrite the ending this time. The Nets shoot better, take better care of the ball and actually get to the line a bit more than the Sixers. On defense, the Nets are putrid. .514 eFG allowed is terrible, they don't force turnovers and they foul at an alarming rate.
On paper, the Sixers should win this one in a walk, in my opinion. Here are my keys to the game:
- Put a body on Brook Lopez. We all remember him killing the Sixers on the offensive glass. If Sammy isn't getting the job done on him, put Ratliff in there.
- Willie on Harris. For some reason, I've read a bunch of comments and stories about how Willie is a good defender recently (most of the comments were on Philly.com, so don't put too much weight behind them). I'm going to be paying extra close attention to how Willie handles Harris tonight. I expect we won't see a whole lot of this matchup, but it could be a key to the first and third quarters.
- Go to the hole. Forget about fixing your jumpers tonight. Go to the hole, get to the line and the shooting woes will seem less problematic. The Nets would rather foul than defend, so take advantage of that.
Philly has one major advantage going into this one. I'll be there for the first time this season and I scored seats directly behind the Sixers' bench. Keep your eyes open for me during the timeouts, I'll probably be the guy yelling at Lou. (Extra credit for anyone who can tell me what color shirt I was wearing at the game. My picture is at the top of this page, so you know who to look for.)
The tip is at 7:30, I won't be here, so it's going to be up to you guys to keep the in-game commentary going. I'll check in with my two cents when I get home tonight.
This should be the start of a three-game win streak, minimum. Let's get it done.