82 of 82. The Sixers will put a bow on the regular season tonight against the Detroit Pistons. Will they use this last game as a tune up for their first round playoff series with the Miami Heat? Will they play their regulars knowing they'll have at least two off days before that series begins? Will they actually show some appreciation for the fans on fan appreciation night by defending their home court one last time? Your guess is as good as mine.
There are definitely a couple of reasons for the Sixers to play to win this game. A win would give them a winning record on the season. A loss would give them consecutive losses at home for the first time since November. Maybe getting the taste of winning back in their mouths heading into Miami would be a positive. I'll let you decide how valid those reasons when weighed against getting the starters some extra rest. Personally, I don't want to risk anything when nothing is really on the line. If rust is a concern, play the starters for a couple of six minute stretches together. Then get the key guys on the bench.
I haven't read anything today about Collins' plans for tonight's game, but I know he made finishing with a winning record an important goal for the team, and he's preached all season about not losing two in a row at home, so my guess is that he's going to play to win this game.
If he does use his regulars for heavy minutes, it would be great to see them get back to doing the things they've done so well in the past. Mainly, what I want to see is better shooting from the guards and better team defense. If Iguodala plays, I'm hoping we'll see a little more spring in his step. Hopefully, the rest will have done him some good.
Elton Brand and Thad Young are the only guys who have been clicking over the past few game, I'd like to see them stay hot. I'd love to see some aggression from Evan Turner, though I don't think it's going to make much of a difference in terms of his role in the playoffs.
Honestly, I'm not expecting a whole lot out of this game. Even if Iguodala is back and Collins plays his regular rotations to get the W, I don't expect the team's focus to be on Detroit. Look at it from your own perspective, have you spent even a second thinking about anything but Miami since they were locked into the #7 seed and their opponent was determined? You have to assume the same thing is going on in the Sixers locker room.
If Collins goes all out for this game, it's probably going to be an uphill battle to keep his guys focused. In terms of winning and losing, this game will probably come down to the Sixers outclassing the Pistons, rather than out-producing them, or winning on effort. The good news is that the Pistons checked out about two months ago, they're playing their last game under a coach they seem to loathe and they aren't exactly loaded with character guys. The Sixers may have one eye on the Heat and playoffs, but the Pistons have one foot on the golf course. Even their "B" team should be able to take down the Pistons.
Prediction: PHI 97, DET 90
The tip is at
UPDATE: Actually, I just saw word that Iguodala would miss the game.