With a win tonight, the Sixers will reach 40 wins on the season, they'll reach 4 games over .500 for the first time since April 5th, 2009, oh, and they'll clinch a playoff spot as well. Standing in their way? Deron Williams, a center with a stripper name and the rest of the New Jersey Nets.
You can never take a team with a superstar lightly, and the Nets certainly qualify as one of those teams. Three things to focus on in this game:
- Keeping Williams under control. He's a beast, he can beat you in every way imaginable, he's got a physical advantage on Jrue, he sees the floor unbelievably well. Hopefully, Collins will come up with a game plan that limits the damage Williams can do (a good start would be to make sure Lou is never guarding him).
- Keep track of Anthony Morrow. He's capable of hitting a ton of threes, and if you wind up doubling Williams to get the ball out of his hands, I'd prefer if the double didn't come from Morrow's man. He's deadly from out there.
- Keep Kris Humphries off the offensive glass.
That's pretty much it. Encourage Brook Lopez to take 20-footers, which he seems happy to do. You don't want him operating on the blocks, and I think you'd probably have to invite him to do so at this point. On the glass, well, it may be wise to put two bodies on Humphries because Lopez is pretty much the worst rebounding center in the league. Consider this, Lopez grabs 12.3% of available defensive rebounds. Andre Iguodala grabs 15.4%. Al Horford grabs 12.4%...of available offensive rebounds. Hell, Andrea Bargnani is a better defensive rebounder than Lopez. That's just pitiful.
The Nets have lost four straight, and prior to scoring 116 points against the Knicks on Wednesday night, they hadn't cracked 90 in their last three (what does that tell you about the Knicks' defense?). They're a bad team, but as I said above, you always have a shot when you have a superstar.
No excuses. Get the job done tonight, secure your berth in the post season, then keep going from there. No more letdowns.
Prediction: PHI 103, NJN 85
The tip is at 7pm. Game thread will land 90 minutes prior.
Also, listen to the replay of last night's SixersBeat episode right here if you're looking for a way to kill an hour on this glorious Friday.