Kevin Martin has picked tonight's game in Philadelphia to make his triumphant return to the King's starting lineup...lucky us. Preview, game thread etc. after the jump.
Let's just start with the matchups:
- Iguodala (6'6") on Tyreke Evans (6'6") - Great, great matchup. Jordan has to throw us a bone here, right? There's no way he can have Iverson or Lou guarding Evans. I believe Evans will probably get his 20 points, Iguodala's job is to make sure it takes him 20 shots to get them.
- Lou (6'2") on Kevin Martin (6'7") - Ouch. The good news: Martin isn't expected to play more than 15-20 minutes. The bad news: Those minutes will probably come mostly at the start of each half, when Lou is sure to be on the floor, guarding him.
- Iverson (6'0") on Omri Casspi (6'9") - Uh, this will not end well. There's a chance Sacto goes smaller with Udoka (6'6") in the game at the three. That would help greatly, but I'm not holding my breath. I expect Westphal to create mismatches with a bigger lineup.
- Thad (6'8") on Jason Thompson (6'11") - Size mismatch, and Thompson can score, though he does seem to disappear some nights. Definitely something they could exploit. Thad would be on Casspi if the Kings go small. It could also be Jon Brockman (6'7") who is sort of a Reggie Evans type, who won't contribute much on the offensive end, but will pressure Thad by crashing the offensive glass.
- Dalembert (6'11) on Spencer Hawes (7'0") - Hawes is kind of a perimeter five who's fallen out of favor with his coach. This matchup could very well be with Jason Thompson, who is a superior offensive player, but doesn't stretch the floor quite as much. I don't see Sammy having much of a problem with either guy. Hawes can shoot the three, so the pick-and-pop could be a concern, but not much of one.
- Iverson vs. Tyreke Evans - A couple years ago, Iverson would've had a quickness advantage, I don't think that's the case today. I'd like to see Iverson drive at an angle into the lane, draw the contact and shoot floaters. Put a couple early fouls on Tyreke, if you can. Overall, I expect Iverson to play the same type of game he has been. Efficient and unselfish if not spectacular.
- Lou vs. Kevin Martin - HUGE speed mismatch here. Lou needs to take advantage by getting into the lane to at least offset a little of the damage from the other end of the floor.
- Iguodala vs. Casspi - Casspi's a tough dude, with good length, but I still think this is a mismatch in Iguodala's favor. Udoka would be a tougher matchup.
- Thad vs. Thompson - Should be a quickness mismatch, though Thad hasn't taken advantage of these mismatches recently. If it's Brockman, I'd like to see Thad really take advantage of both the size and quickness mismatch.
- Sammy vs. Hawes - No inherent mismatch in the half court, but Sam should be able to beat him down the floor and blow by him on dives to the hole off high screens for the lob. Those advantages disappear a little bit if it's Thompson on him.
- Jrue, Speights and Brand vs. Nocioni, Udrih, Donte Green - Considering the Sixers have two guys who should be starting coming off the bench, I'm giving the edge to Philly here. The Kings really have no one who can guard Brand or Speights. Jrue is a defensive dynamo and really starting to lead the team in his limited minutes. Beno is shooting it well from three, Nocioni could pose problems on the defensive end for a Philly big lineup, but I think having him guard Brand or Speights would be a bigger issue on the other end of the floor.
I'm going to predict a tight game, probably somewhat high scoring. These Kings are much more talented than the version the Sixers beat in Sacto on the Ice Capades trip. Their two best players are active this time, and they're going to be tough to handle. Keep an eye on the threes.
One final note, for those of you who pine for a guy like Kevin Martin instead of a guy like Andre Iguodala to lead your team. Watch Martin closely on the defensive side of the ball, he'll be the guy watching his man charge into the lane. And when he sinks a couple of jumpers, think about the 96 games he's missed over the past fives seasons, then think about the 6 Iguodala has missed and tell me who's more valuable.
Key to The Game: Production from EB, TY and MS. One of the bigs other than Sam needs to get it together tonight.
If _____________ the Sixers will win: I'm going to say 30+ minutes for Sam. The Kings will get penetration, if Sammy can contest/block shots without getting into early foul trouble, I like the Sixers chances.
This is your game thread, I'll be here throughout seeing AI9 vs. the left coast AI9 and enjoying nearly every second of it. Join me if you're around.