Last season the Sixers finished 41-41, 6th in the Eastern Conference, 2 games behind the Miami Heat for 5th. The difference between a first-round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks or the Orlando Magic was two games. If you're looking to point a finger as to why the Sixers dropped to sixth, look not further than the New Jersey Nets. The Sixers were 0-4 against New Jersey, a split of those four games would've made all the difference in the world. Tonight, it's time to make sure history doesn't repeat itself.
The Nets will be without the services of Devin Harris, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jarvis Hayes, Tony Battie, Yi Jianlian and Keyon Dooling. They're expecting to have only 9 guys dressed for the game. They only have one active point on the roster.
If this game winds up being about winning or losing in the fourth quarter, I will be greatly disappointed. It should be decided early. It should be a blowout before the fourth quarter even starts and we should spend the entire game worrying about things like Holiday's minutes, Willie Green's garbage time shots and a second chance for Jason Smith after a DNPCD.
Early on, keep an eye on the defensive rotations, as usual. Courtney Lee is among the select few who will be active tonight, and he can shoot it. If Iguodala is on him, I expect his impact to be minimal. Rafer Alston is the only PG on the active roster, I'd like to see Jrue and Ivey play the point and extend their pressure into the backcourt to make Alston work. The guy is 33 years-old and I just don't see him being able to handle 30+ minutes of intense pressure.
Sammy needs to handle Brook down low (which sounds like something that would cost you extra at a strip club), and keep him off the offensive glass. Lee, Alston and Williams will all fire from deep, with varying degrees of success, but if the Nets are going to put points on the board, Lopez is the threat.
Short-handed, bereft of talent. This is exactly the type of game the Sixers would lose last season. Let's see if they've turned the page or if they'll play down to their competition, again.
Key to the Game: Defensive rebounding, mainly because the Nets are going to miss so many shots.
If __________________ the Sixers will win: Willie Green plays more than 12 minutes. Extended garbage time is the KPI for the night.
I'm going to have to watch this one on DVR tonight. For the first time in several years I'm going to an NBA game that I don't have a rooting interest in. A friend of mine scored tickets to the Cavs/Knicks game at the Garden. Hopefully LeBron will score 70 and the Cavs will lose. I'll be watching the Sixers when I get home and you can expect a wrap and the rotations chart sometime in the wee hours.
This is your game thread, you guys are on your own tonight.