Unless you consider Jodie Meeks the savior this team needed, the Philadelphia 76ers team that takes the floor tonight will be the same one the Miami Heat thoroughly embarrassed on Tuesday. Will the stability of knowing they won't have to move to a new city settle the nerves of the players? Will that stability breed consistency on the floor? Or will the realization that they're stuck on this team, with this coach lead to more apathy? Preview and game thread after the jump.
The Spurs are in the middle of their fabled rodeo trip. They currently hold the #5 seed in the West. If you're a believer in San Antonio, they're playing opossum through the regular season, not exerting themselves too much. Limiting minutes to their big three, trying to keep their older legs feeling younger when the games really matter. If you're a non-believer, Richard Jefferson clearly hasn't worked out, they're a year older and their championship team may have sailed. Either way, they're a better team than the Sixers.
Fortunately, the Sixers always seem to play the Spurs well. Last season the Sixers took this game from San Antonio, and almost swept them (they would've if not for a miracle o-board, 18-footer from the baseline by Tony Parker). Sam Dalembert has been Tim Duncan's nemesis, especially down the stretch of tight games over the past couple of seasons.
Willie Green is out tonight, Meeks passed his physical and will be in uniform. It officially took one game for Iverson to work his way back into the starting lineup, here are your matchups:
Jrue vs. Tony Parker - Can the kid keep TP out of the lane? (I tried to work TP and clog into the same sentence, but no such luck), Or will Iverson get switched onto Parker?
George Hill vs. Iverson - Hmmn. I'm going with youth over experience here. Hill has a size advantage as well, though not as much as most two guards.
Iguodala vs. Jefferson - AI9, no question.
Brand vs. Bonner (or McDyess) - Bonner spreads the floor, which is a problem for Brand. McDyess is old. Brand should be able to score easily on either, unless Duncan takes him on the defensive end.
Sammy vs. Duncan - Can Sammy do it on his own? He's been allowed to in the past, not sure how Jordan will play it, or if Sammy will even be on the floor when the game is being decided.
Bench - Advantage San Antonio, big advantage.
Coach - Heh.
Key to The Game: Three-point shooters, contest everything, especially the corner three. Who will contain Parker when Jrue's out of the game?
If ________________ the Sixers will win: Fewer minutes for the Iverson/Lou combo than the Brand/Dalembert combo.
This is your game thread, I'll be right here throughout. Join me if you watched the Tiger Woods farce earlier today (or even if you didn't.)