Nine games to go, 4 at home, 5 on the road. Tonight's matchup with the 32-44 Milwaukee Bucks could be a barometer for how this regular season will end. Milwaukee played last night, typically the Sixers would look past the Bucks. Will Thad's absence light a fire under the rest of the team, or will it be the same old, same old from the up-and-down Sixers?
With both Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut on the shelf for the rest of the season, the Bucks have become a three-man show. Richard Jefferson, Ramon Sessions and Charlie Villaneuva dominate the ball like no other trio in the league. Jefferson leads the team in usage percentage (basically the number of possessions a player uses, as a percentage of total team possessions while the player is on the floor) at 28.5, Jefferson is second with 24.4% and Sessions clocks in at 22.5. When their two best players went down, these three saw shots out there and they grabbed them. Unfortunately for the Bucks, none of the trio tops 45% in field goal percentage.
Sessions has probably emerged as the team's best player. When he was finally inserted in the starting lineup to replace Luke Ridnour in late January, his game blossomed. He's had huge scoring games (44 against the Pistons), unbelievable assist games (17 against Indy) and last night he had a sick triple double against the Lakers (16 points, 16 assists and 10 boards). The only thing Sessions can't do is shoot.
As far as three-point shooters go, Jefferson and Charlie Bell are both above-average shooters, and Jefferson takes a healthy amount. Charlie V. shoots at 35% and he'll typically heave 3.3 per game.
If you're drawing up a defensive gameplan to take into the game against Milwaukee, it starts with forcing Sessions to take jumpers and keeping him out of the lane. Then you concetrate on limiting Jefferson's looks from range, and finally you want to be physical with Villaneuva and don't get discouraged if he gets his points. He'll give them back to you on the other end of the floor.
Milwaukee fouls at an unbelievably high rate. The Sixers should be able to take advantage of this and make a living on free throws.
Two keys for the game, free throw disparity and defense on Villaneuva. Thad would've been a perfect guy to stick on him, I'm not sure what direction they go in now. Neither Reggie nor Speights put up much resistance on Josh Smith the other night, and Villaneuva is a similar player.
The tip is at 7pm, I'll be right here throughout, so join me for the in-game discussion.