The basketball gods a really frowning on the Sixers these days. It seems like every team they're "chasing" for better lottery position can't help but lose (the Knicks lost to the Nets last night). And the tough teams the Sixers are facing during this grueling stretch of their schedule are either playing horrible basketball (like the Celts) or down a couple key players (like the Raptors today). Preview and game thread after the jump.
It looks like both Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu will probably miss today's noon game against the Sixers, in Toronto. Take away arguably a team's best two players, and the Sixers should be able to beat them, I don't care how deep they are. The five-game losing streak should come to an end today.
I fully expect Eddie Jordan to smell blood in the water and go for this win with everything he's got. Which will probably make the win a bit harder to grab, but I'm still putting odds on the Sixers taking the win if Bosh and Hedo are both out. If it's only one of them, flip a coin.
Here are your matchups:
Jrue vs. Jarrett Jack - Jack has turned in an extremely strong season for the Raptors since taking over the starting spot from Jose Calderon. Jrue needs to stick with him from distance, where he's shooting better than 40%.
Lou vs. DeMar DeRozan - DeRozan has been a high-flying decent contributor in his rookie season for Toronto. This is a size mismatch, so there's a chance Eddie Jordan foolishly switches Jrue and Lou. Actually, that's probably what he'll do. On offense, Lou should have no problem penetrating against either, though we'll undoubtedly see more of the weave and heave.
Iguodala vs. Sonny Weems - I'm assuming Weems will get the start over Antoine Wright, but you never know. Either way, this is a huge mismatch and Iguodala needs to exploit it.
Brand vs. Amir Johnson - An old guy struggling with athletic limitations getting by with know-how vs. a young guy who uses his athletic prowess to cover up for a low basketball IQ, sometimes. Pretty interesting matchup, and one that Brand needs to win if the Sixers have a chance.
Dalembert vs. Bargnani - Maybe the defining matchup of the game. Sammy is going to have to really do a good job on the high pick and roll, making sure not to leave Bargnani open for threes. He also needs to dominate the glass in his limited minutes.
Bench - Reggie Evans is all the rage in Toronto these days. Expect to see the crowd go nuts when he comes on the floor. They've also got Jose Calderon as their backup PG, and Calderon can really shoot the ball. I'm not sure exactly what to expect from the Sixers' bench, other than 30+ minutes for Willie Green. I'll give the edge to a depleted Toronto bench, I guess.
Key to The Game: Defending the three.
If ____________ the Sixers will win: Hedo and Bosh don't play, and Jrue/Dalembert score the ball well early on, earning extra minutes.
Since the All Star break the Sixers have been outscored by 112 points in their ten games. That includes two wins. Stellar, stellar basketball.
This is your game thread. I may not be able to watch it live, if I'm not here, keep it clean and positive, as always, in my absence.