A city fighting to keep a team that won't fight with owners who can't be bothered. At least there's one franchise in more disarray than the Sixers. Tonight, our heroes take on the Sacramento Kings in a battle for lottery position.
The Kings are pretty much the mirror image of the Sixers. Abysmal on defense, average on offense. DeMarcus Cousins has raised his game from the most destructive offensive player in the game (in a bad way), to just a bit below average on the offensive end and still a defensive sieve, which is a dramatic improvement. Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans pretty much carry their offense with solid efficiency. The thing the Kings lack is a playmaker. They have a bunch of guys who can get their own shots, no one to make plays for others. When I see team-wide stats like that, I think double team. They don't move the ball well, double all screens. Trap in the corners, double down especially hard on Cousins, make them make passes to get looks, don't let them beat you off the dribble (and keep Turner away from Tyreke).
Despite their last-second choke job in Denver the other night, the Sixers are still in the midst of a stretch of solid play. Tonight, it'll be interesting to see how they bounce back from the heartbreak. Will Evan Turner's confidence be shattered (for the 10,000th time in his three-year career)? Collectively, will they be afraid to make mistakes? Will they somehow take the Kings lightly? I can't imagine a team with 26 wins would think they're better than anyone, but it's certainly possible.
I'd like to see a solid game on both ends of the floor. That's not too much to ask against the likes of the Kings. In the past two games, we've seen opposing teams throw a double at Jrue on nearly every offensive possession. In LA, Jrue didn't handle it well. In Denver, he was spectacular. If the Kings still bother scouting teams, which is debatable, they'll probably try a similar strategy. I'd like to see more of what we saw vs. the Nuggets, with a bit more aggression. Split the double, get in the lane and look to score or find the wide-open man. Of course, when you've got Wilkins and Turner on the wings, hitting the open man is an iffy proposition, but this is the roster we've been given.
Jason Thompson always seems to have big games against the Sixers. Thad needs to get back to working the defensive glass hard like he was a couple games ago. Force mistakes, get out in the open floor, hopefully Hawes can keep his streak of solid play alive. Just play smart, hard basketball.
The tip is at 9pm. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout. Join me for some late-night basketball to put this weekend to bed.