The ups and downs of the first 24 games of this Sixers season have caused me some personal embarrassment. Friends and family have taken pity on me, for the most part. They know how excited I was this summer when Stefanski pulled a Brand out of a hat. I get the occassional "nice game" chirp from a coworker when the Sixers lay a particularly stinky egg on the court, but nothing anyone has to say to me could possibly hurt more than two facts.
- The Sixers are looking up at the Knicks in the standings.
- The Sixers are looking up at the Bucks in the standings.
First, the good news. Milwaukee is 11-15 coming into this game, but they only have 1 win over a team with a record over .500 (San Antonio sans Manu and Parker). The bad news: The Sixers only have 1 win over a + .500 team as well (Detroit, post-Chauncey). Wow, that's just sad.
If you're going to beat the Bucks, and let's face facts, you have to beat the Bucks at home, with 3 full days of rest, right? Anyway, their two biggest weapons are their wings, Michael Redd, who returned from injury a little over a week ago, and Richard Jefferson. Redd and Jefferson have been lighting it up from three this season (40.6% and 39.8%, respectively), and they aren't shy about jacking them up. They combine to average 8.7 attempts from three.
I haven't heard differently, so I'm going to assume that Willie Green is back in the starting lineup, and he'll get the assignment on Redd (although I'd give serious consideration to shifting Miller onto him and putting Willie on Sessions). This means the Sixers will be at a disadvantage on the perimeter. Iguodala can lock down Jefferson, but we absolutely must have Willie focused on Redd at all times. No stupid doubles, no sluggish rotations. The team's top priority has to be staying at home on Jefferson and Redd.
Dalembert is going to have to earn his keep in guarding Bogut one-on-one, which isn't really that tall of an order, he's only averaging 11.7 points on 8.9 shots. Honestly, there's no one on this team that warrants a double. I'd like to see good aggressive defense and solid rebounding. Limit the gambling, if you can.
The Bucks have two guys coming off their bench who have done damage against the Sixers in the past, Charlie Villaneuva and Dan Gadzuric. Villaneuva is a pure gunner at the four who thinks he can stretch his range out past the three-point line, even if his percentage tells you otherwise. For some reason, he always puts up big numbers against Philly. Gadzuric is a nothing big who hustles and always finds a way to disrupt the Sixers on both ends of the floor with great hustle.
I'll be tracking Brand's touches in the post tonight, and especially how the floor is spaced when he gets the ball. As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.