The Sixers will look to build their win over the Rockets on Saturday into a streak tonight against the New Orleans Hornets in Philly. The Hornets probably aren't as bad as their 11-26 record would indicate now that they've got their full team assembled, but they're still a team the Sixers should be able to handle on their home floor.
The Hornets have been without #1 overall pick Anthony Davis for 13 of 37 games, and without max-extension Eric Gordon for 30 of 37 and stuck with the positively Evan Turner-esque Austin Rivers the entire season. Since getting their imagined starting lineup on the floor together, the Hornets are 4-1 with a quality win over the Spurs, in New Orleans, in the mix there. They're coming off an 87-100 loss to the Knicks on Sunday.
Expect a very low scoring game tonight. Neither team scores particularly well, and the Hornets are one of the few teams who play at a slower pace than the Sixers (they're 29th in the league, the Sixers are 22nd). New Orleans presents a couple of problems on the defensive end. Ryan Anderson continues to kill teams from deep in his reserve role. Greivis Vasquez is a very big point guard. Eric Gordon is an attacking SG, putting a ton of pressure on the perimeter guys to keep him out of the paint, and the back line to challenge shots in the lane without fouling.
Fortunately, most of their strengths on the offensive end come with problems on defense. Vasquez is slow, Ryan Anderson is a terrible defender, Gordon used to be a decent defender, but who knows what he's like after all the leg injuries. Their defensive anchor is a rookie and their centers (Lopez and Jason Smith) both play much smaller than they are. It's important to keep NOH off the offensive glass. Watch Vasquez, Anderson and Roger Mason from deep (they're all above average shooters from distance). I'd say this is a perfect opportunity to cross match with the starters. Put Jrue on Gordon to limit his touches and negate his quickness, put Turner on Vasquez where he won't be overmatched athletically. The matchup that really scares me is Ryan Anderson. Anderson comes off the bench to play 30+ minutes/game. That means Thad will be on him some, but he's also going to get some time with a big on him, probably Hawes. I'm not a big fan of any of the Sixers bigs chasing Anderson around beyond the three-point line. I'd like to see Collins go with a smaller lineup and put Wright on Anderson when he's out there at the four, but we'll have to see if Collins goes in that direction. If he does, Wright will have to work hard on the defensive glass. Anderson averages better than 2 o-boards/game.
On offense, attack Anderson with quickness when you can. Otherwise, it's Jrue's show, he needs to take it at Vasquez, use the penetration to get to the rim or set guys up. Nothing new.
The tip is at 7pm. Use this as your game thread. String together two wins for the first time since November 30th! Too much to ask?