In my preview of the second half, I had tonight's game against the Pacers as a loss. Actually, I had the Sixers sputtering out of the gates after the All Star Break, this being the first of a string of three consecutive losses. After the jump we'll take a look at how the Sixers can avoid this fate and keep momentum on their side as they push for the #4 seed in the East.
You can pretty much throw the numbers above out the window. How these teams have performed against the rest of the league doesn't really matter when they're already faced off three times this season. Let's take a look at the numbers from those games alone, and see what the Sixers need to keep up, improve upon and eliminate to take the season series 3-1 from Indiana.
The thing that kills me about these games, I mean absolutely makes me grind me teeth to powder, is the abysmal percentages the Sixers have shot against one of the worst defenses in the league. They haven't touched a .440 eFG in the first three meetings and that's wholly unacceptable.
They've won two of the three thanks to taking excellent care of the ball, getting to the line a ton and also keeping Indiana off the offensive glass. They need to keep those trends going and a hit some shots. If the Sixers don't score 110 points tonight, they should consider their offensive effort a failure. We don't need to talk about defending the three, do we? In the three games, Indy has made 27 threee, the Sixers have attempted 28.
Now, here's the big question. Why have the Pacers stymied the Sixers offense? Which of course leads us to, how can the Sixers put an end to it? This is probably an over-simplified answer, but I'll go with it anyway, the zone defense. Jim O'Brien has dared the Sixers to beat the Pacers with jumpers, and one occasion, they couldn't do it.
I'm going to go back to my favorite play for this team against the zone, let's hope we see a heavy dose of it. Both bigs (no matter who they are) down on the baseline, ball in the middle of the floor. Dribble to right wing, short pass, the zone sucks out to cover both guys on the overloaded wing, Speights flashes to the foul line for an easy catch. Either a wide-open jumper from there, a nice dump down to Sammy for a dunk, or if the defense over-reacts, a kick out to one of the wings for an open three.
Keep in mind when you're watching tonight that you don't beat a zone by dribbling, you beat it by passing and moving without the ball. Feel free to yell at the screen along with me whenever Lou Williams dribbles the ball for more than 3 seconds in the half court against the zone. It will happen.
Tip is at 7 p.m. I'll be here so join me if you're watching, or listening, or following along on game cast. Let's get the nominal second half kicked off with a W.
Daniels, Foster and Dunleavy are all listed as day-to-day. Check out Arin It Out for your Pacers' fix.