and he's bringing a 9-game win streak with him.
The Sixers will face a red hot Cavaliers team tonight at 8 p.m. in Philly. The late start is because the game will be aired nationally on ESPN. The Cavs come into the game with a sparkling 18-3 record, although they've had somewhat of a cream puff schedule. Their three losses came to Boston, New Orleans and Detroit. Only four of their 18 wins have come against playoff teams from last season (Utah, Dallas, Toronto and Atlanta).
After the jump we'll take a look at the Cavs most-popular rotations and how the Sixers can match up.
The LeBrons run with their starting lineup about 33% of the time. Here are the defensive match-ups I think the Sixers will use:
- Mo Williams - Andre Miller
- Delonte West - Thaddeus Young
- LeBron James - Andre Iguodala
- Ben Wallace - Elton Brand
- Zydrunas Ilgauskus - Samuel Dalembert
The big mismatch here is Thad on Delonte, but I can't see Mo putting Thad on LeBron from the get-go. Those two will probably switch back and forth, but I have to think Iggy has a better chance to at least bother LeBron. Thad doesn't have the strength, yet.
On the other side of the floor, Delonte is going to have to guard either Iggy or Thad, that's a mismatch. Miller should be able to take Mo Williams down to the blocks. This is nothing new, the Sixers have had these mismatches all year long and they've rarely gone to them. EB is expected to play, although he may wish he hadn't. He's going to have length on him all night long, which should hamper his low-post game. His best chance to get the ball at the elbow in pick and pop opportunities.
The Cavs' second most-popular unit is a bit of a surprise. They spend 10% of their minutes with LeBron at the 4, I think. Here's the lineup, and the match-ups I'd like to see Mo counter with.
- Delonte West - Andre Miller
- Daniel Gibson - Lou Williams
- Wally Szczerbiak - Thad Young
- LeBron James - Andre Iguodala
- Anderson Varejao - Elton Brand
When the Cavs go to this lineup, the Sixers need to attack the tin. Anderson Varejao is a hustle guy and a tenacious rebounder, but he doesn't block many shots. Most of the time he'll plant himsef in the lane and flop. Without Big Ben and Z in there, the Sixers should be super-aggressive. There are a couple of other ways to attack this lineup, you could sub in Donyell for Lou, let Donyell guard Wally on the perimeter and light them up, or you could put Speights in and overwhelm them with size. Speights could guard the slow-footed Szczerbiak on the perimeter without a problem. Interesting small lineup they've been leaning on quite a bit, I hope Mo has been studying this stuff and has a counter in mind.
With EB back, it'll be interesting to see what Mo does with his rotations. Donyell has obviously earned some regular minutes. I'm not sure he should be in there at the end of the game, but during that stretch in the beginning of the second quarter when Mo likes to empty the bench would be a nice time to see Donyell. It's also about time we got a longer look at Kareem Rush.
The tip is at 8, on ESPN. The last live blog resulted in a loss, so we won't do one tonight, but I will be watching so leave your thoughts in the comments throughout.