The Sixers and the Bobcats come into tonight's game scuffling. Both teams are having serious problems on one side of the ball, neither has an identity. I'm fully expecting a street brawl on the floor with Brown clogging the lane mercilessly and the Sixers cruelly inviting Charlotte to hit open jumpers. Here's the problem, though. In a street fight, usually the craziest guy wins.
All kidding aside, this will probably be one of the ugliest games we'll witness this season. In front of an empty Wachovia Center we're going to see the Sixers try to execute their precision offense against a physical defense who loathes allowing penetration and forces you to take the one shot you really don't want to take.
On the other end, Charlotte has scored more than 90 points only three times in ten games. Simply put, they are horrible with a capital H offensively. They're coming off a game in which Flip Murray and Borris Diaw completely went off, shooting a combined 23/34 from the floor for 52 points. The rest of the team could only muster 39 points, however, and they were held to 91 as a unit.
One look at their roster tells you exactly how they plan to play. They're big, they're physical, they're athletic, and they're mostly unskilled on the offensive end. It's going to be very, very interesting to see how they fare against one of the worst defenses in the league tonight.
When the Sixers have the ball, the size mismatches simply won't be there, not that they use those mismatches when they are present, but it's worth noting. Stephen Jackson will present problems for Iguodala, Gerald Wallace is bigger and stronger than Thad. Brand should be able to do some work against Diaw, if he's given the chance, which I highly doubt he will be. Expect to see very little of Brand (if he even starts), especially if Diaw gets hot from the outside.
Tyson Chandler vs. Sam Dalembert is a wash. Tyson Chandler vs. Jason Smith is going to be interesting when the Sixers are trying to secure defensive boards.
Larry Brown has apparently been given free reign over this roster, and he's made into his own very quickly. Guys who can defend multiple positions, good size, and not a lick of offensive talent. Four guys in their eight-man rotation are shooting less than 40% from the field. That's astonishing.
On paper, the Bobcats don't have anyone who even comes close to measuring up to Iguodala. Brand outclasses anyone in their front court. Thad and Wallace are probably a wash at SF with Thad getting the nod on offense, Wallace on defense and the glass. Dalembert and Chandler cancel each other out. I'd give the Bobcats a small advantage off the bench because Flip can get hot and without Speights, the Sixers' second unit is decidedly punchless.
When you put them on the floor, though, the Bobcats have two big advantages. The first is their coach, who knows what he's doing when it comes to coaching, if not when he's building rosters. The second is that Charlotte knows who they are, they're a defensive team and they don't hide from that fact, the embrace it (they're 6th in the league in defensive efficiency). The Sixers don't know what kind of team they are. Their personnel doesn't mesh with the coach's vision for the team and they're struggling on both ends.
I think Philly will find a way to squeak out a win, mostly because having the two or three best players on the floor should be enough to overcome anything, but it's not going to be pretty and I wouldn't say I'm exactly confident in my prediction.
Key to The Game: Defensive rebounding.
If _____________________ the Sixers will win: The Sixers hit 8 threes. Let's face facts, Brown's defense is going to trump the PO tonight, the Sixers are going to be forced into taking deep jumpers for the majority of the game. If they can hit a decent amount of them, they'll win.
This is your game thread, still no definitive word on the starting lineup, so don't have a coronary if Carney is at the three, Thad is at the four and Brand is on the bench. I have my fingers crossed, though. Tip is at 7 pm. Hope to see you guys here.