Sixers at Bulls on TNT. On paper, this game probably should've featured a Bulls team with Derrick Rose back from injury and a Sixers team with a hulking mass of domination in the middle cementing their bid for home court in the playoffs. Instead, we'll probably get the privilege of seeing Nate Robinson vs. Jeremy Pargo for about 30 minutes. Wonderful.
The Bulls and Sixers both seem to be going through a similar psychological lull recently. The Sixers struggles are well documented, but Chicago has fallen apart as well (4-8 over their last 12 games). Both teams have spent their seasons awaiting the return of their superstar. Motivated by the thought they can keep it together until their guy gets on the floor. Both eventually realizing he might not be coming. Both unable to maintain their facade with the harsh reality of the season slipping away. Chicago's facade (and the rest of their roster) is just much better.
There's no better way to get healthy than to face the reeling Sixers and their unraveling coach. Chicago and Philly are very similar, statistically. Terrible offenses (Chicago's is less terrible) and good defenses (Chicago's is better). This scrappy version of the Bulls, sans-Rose, wins on defense and activity. The Sixers have been anything but active lately. Tonight, we're going to see the impact of Doug's rant to the media following the Orlando loss the other night. I suspect we'll see a better team-wide effort, but that's a pretty low bar. The guys who can be motivated, will be. The guys who are too caught up in their own heads will probably continue to have the "woe is me's."
I'd like to see much less of Jrue and Pargo on the floor together. It's fine to give Jrue some time off the ball, it's good to give him a bit of rest without putting him on the bench, but Collins has taken it too far. 12-15 minutes with Pargo running the point is more than enough. When you creep up into the 30-minute range, you're marginalizing your only offensive weapon. I'm not opposed to Jrue playing the two, but Pargo isn't a legit PG. This rotation probably won't come down to Jrue or Pargo, though. Collins has had to come up with a bunch of minutes at the two over the past couple games because Nick Young has been invisible. Maybe if Nick starts hot we won't see as much of Pargo at the point.
It would be nice if Collins adjusted his rotation a bit to reward/punish guys for their lack of effort the other night. More minutes for Moultrie at Spencer's expense would be a good start. Wilkins over Turner, if he was on Collins' list. Same for Jrue. Play Pargo without Jrue if you had a problem with his energy level. Playing time is carrot and the stick for a coach, at every level. It's not like he'd be jeopardizing the team's playoff hopes by benching some guys if they show similar lack of effort tonight.
Hopefully, discipline won't be an issue. Tank, don't tank, it doesn't really matter, but I feel like we've invested enough in this franchise as fans to deserve better than a listless effort from the players on the floor and a series of sarcastic shrugs from the bench. It's never too much to ask for a player to play hard, and there's always something to play for, even if it's not the playoffs this season.
Anyway, the tip is at 8pm. This is your game thread. NJ Transit willing, I'll be here throughout, gleefully watching the TNT guys laugh at the Sixers for the Bynum trade. Join me if you're a glutton.