If the trend of the second half continues tonight in Milwaukee, the weary Sixers will take care of the rested Bucks in demonstrative fashion on the road. Last night's game wasn't your average game, though. The Sixers fought tooth and nail against the Bulls and relied on their most important guys for some heavy, intense minutes. Bouncing back is going to be difficult.
The guy I'm most concerned about is Elton Brand. He's played some inspired basketball, especially on the defensive end, since the break, but his minutes have also been pushed. He's played 33 minutes in each of the past three games, and I'm not sure if he has that much burn in him on the second night of a b2b. Iguodala played 40 last night and Jrue played 39, each of them chased Derrick Rose around for significant portions of the game. Fatigue has to be a primary concern going into this game.
The best way to make fatigue a non-issue is to shorten the game. Jump on top of the Bucks early, build a lead by the half and make Milwaukee run uphill in the second half. It takes more energy to come back than it does to front run, and Collins can steal minutes with some less-than-optimal lineups if he's got a cushion to work with.
The Bucks are without their defensive focal point, thus they are no longer a good defensive team (22nd in the league in DFR). On the offensive end, they have three guys in their starting lineup capable of getting hot and putting up a big number: Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova and Drew Gooden. Ilyasova is a small four, and if he starts hot, I'd probably put Iguodala on him. Maybe I'd go small early w/ Thad at the four and switch Thad onto Delfino or Dunleavy. He should be able to stick with both of those guys on the perimeter. Gooden is a grossly undersized center who prefers to shoot from about 20 feet. Allen needs to stick with him and make sure to get a hand in his face.
Jrue is extremely familiar with Jennings' game. In their previous meeting, Holiday's high school rival had 7 points, 3 boards and 2 dimes in 29 minutes of work. Jennings has improved this season over his first two, but he still isn't an efficient scorer. Keep him on the perimeter and off the line and you'll be fine.
Every time the Sixers lose a game like last night's I ask myself, "How many times can they get back up?" Well, so far they haven't faltered. They've only lost one game in which they were a clear favorite all season (to the Nets). They've shown an uncanny ability to demonstrate their superiority over the lesser teams in the league, no matter the circumstances. Tonight is another opportunity for them to put their collective foot on Milwaukee's throat. Will this be the night where yesterday's failure(s) impact today's performance and energy level? I hope not.
The tip is at 8pm. Game thread will land around 6.