Fresh off a 3-3 road trip, that started with a loss on the road to the floundering Wizards, the Sixers will face a troubled Washington squad at 7pm tonight. Preview and game thread after the jump.
Let's keep the focus on the players for this one. I know Mike Miller is heartbroken that he couldn't get back in time to face the Sixers' hapless defense, but he's definitely out. Here's a look at the battles, position by position. In case you were wondering, Flip Saunders has shifted to a very big lineup these days.
Arenas guarding Iverson: Iverson should be able to get by Arenas, and there's no reason not to expect another efficient game from Iverson where his shot selection is not a problem and he's involving the bigs in the offense. Arenas doesn't present any kind of problem here.
Butler guarding Lou Williams: Lou has a definite speed advantage here, how he uses it is anyone's guess. If he can get to the rim, he'll score. If he's shooting jumpers off the dribble, or jumping to make risky passes, the mismatch is meaningless. Flip a coin.
Jamison guarding Iguodala: Huge mismatch, but Iguodala needs to use it to get into the lane, not to create space for his jumper. Again, flip a coin.
Blatche on Thad: Sounding like a broken record at this point. Quickness advantage, but how will they use it?
Haywood on Dalembert: Pretty even matchup. Sammy's quicker, but Haywood is a tough dude. I don't expect many post touches for Dalembert.
Lou Williams on Arenas: Jordan is going to have to pick his poison and I think he regards Lou as a stronger defender than Iverson and Arenas as a bigger threat than Butler. No matter what he decides, this is the first of two unbelievable mismatches. Arenas, if motivated, will embarrass Lou both off the dribble and on open jumpers when Lou loses him.
Iverson on Butler: Iverson can't defend guys his own size, he has no prayer of even slowing Caron Butler down. The Wizards should attack this matchup every time down the floor, they're morons if they don't. I actually expect we'll see quite of bit of the silly zone Jordan uses from time to time, simply because the mismatches at these two positions are so horrible.
Iguodala on Jamison: An interesting matchup, I see Iguodala holding his own against the bigger player, using strength and leverage to minimize any damage Jamison usually does on the inside. He's certainly better equipped to handle Jamison than Thad is.
Thad on Blatche: Blatche isn't much of an offensive threat, but he is 6'11" and a very good offensive rebounder. That's where I believe this matchup will take it's toll on the Sixers.
Sam on Haywood: Haywood, who couldn't get minutes under Eddie Jordan, is playing a very good center for Flip Saunders. He's averaging 9.5pts/10.3rebs/2.3blks in over 33 minutes/night. He's big, he's strong, and he could get Sammy into foul trouble early on.
Washington's bench is downright pitiful, with Foye, Stevenson and Boykins playing the majority of the minutes at guards and Oberto/Dominic McGuire up front, the Sixers have a clear advantage here with Brand, Speights, Jrue (should Jordan deem Jrue worthy of any minutes at all) and Carney (ditto comments about Jrue). I'm sure we'll be blessed with the ultimate "hey, you suck almost as much as I do" matchup in DeShawn Stevenson vs. Willie Green for long stretches.
Here are the numbers you should keep in mind heading into tonight's game.
76ers Offensive Rating on the season (points scored per possession): 107.56
Wizards Defensive Rating on the seasons (points allowed per possession): 109.29
76ers Defensive Rating on the season: 112.03
Wizards Offensive Rating on the season: 105.28
In the two games the teams have played this season, the Sixers have accumulated a 111.6 offensive efficiency rating while allowing the Wizards to score 116.02 per 100 possessions. So two horrible defenses, seeing who can be worse.
Keep those numbers in mind, and we'll use them to gauge how this game was won/lost.
Key to The Game: How Washington exploits the mismatches in the back court. How the Sixers fail to do likewise.
If ________________ the Sixers will win: Jordan allows Iverson/Lou or Lou/Willie or Iverson/Willie to guard Arenas/Butler for less than 12 minutes.
Check out Bullets Forever for the Wizards side of things.
This is your game thread, I'll be here throughout, join me if you dare.