The Sixers return home tonight to take on their left conference whipping boy, the Portland Blazers. If you've been MIA over the past two seasons, you've missed the Sixers handle the Blazers in almost every imaginable way. Let's hope tonight is no different. Preview and game thread after the leap.
Here's the only question that really matters: Will Andre Iguodala guard Brandon Roy? He did the last time these teams met, but since then Eddie Jordan has opted to use Lou Williams and Allen Iverson on Tyreke Evans, so I'm no 100% confident Jordan will make a quality decision.
Once that matchup is settled, and for the moment I'm going to give Jordan the benefit of the doubt and say he will use AI9 on Roy (who's coming back from his malingering just to play the Sixers), that leaves Allen Iverson on Martell Webster and Lou Williams on Andre Miller. No mismatches there.
The good news is that Nate McMillan isn't a big fan of attacking mismatches and would rather follow this pattern:
- Walk the ball up the floor as slowly as possible.
- Put the ball in Brandon Roy's hands
- Run a pick-and-pop with LaMarcus Aldridge setting the pick, then fading for a 20-foot jumper.
- Have Roy dump the ball to Aldrdge to take that shot
- If the LA shot isn't there, Roy drives to the hoop or takes a jumper.
Occasionally they'll mix in a corner three for Steve Blake or Webster. Andre Miller may take matters into his own hands if he can actually get his hands on the ball, but that's a rarity. The Blazers are one of the only teams where I think the best way to defend them is to allow them to do exactly what they want to do. I'd put Thad on Aldridge, double Roy hard every time he comes out to set the screen, and then maybe run out on Aldridge, but not too hard. I want him shooting 20 footers all night long. The only thing I'm really worried about is leaving the shooters open on the wings and/or allowing Aldridge to dive to the hole. This is probably an oversimplification, but honestly, I'd rather give Aldridge 30 wide-open long twos than alert McMillan of the mismatches he has all over the floor.
The good news for the Sixers comes mostly on the other end of the floor. Miller is going to have to guard either Iverson or Lou, so that should mean penetration galore. The Blazers don't have anyone who can handle Brand inside, should the Sixers decide tonight would be a good night to actually give EB a couple shots. With Oden and Przbylla on the shelf, the Blazers don't have anything even remotely resembling a shot blocker. Their 6'11" "power" forward has fewer blocks on the season than Andre Iguodala. The offensive philosophy should be quite simple. Go to the hole, go to the hole and go to the hole some more. There should be no settling for jumpers tonight.
I believe Sammy will be back for the game tonight. I hope he's safe, but I can't imagine he's gotten any rest since the disaster happened. He's playing on nothing but adrenaline and heart right now and I can't help but feel for the guy. No idea what to expect from him in basketball terms and I'm pretty sure it doesn't even matter.
So, do I think the Sixers will win his one? No idea. Nothing, and I do mean absolutely nothing surprises me where the Sixers are concerned these days. I'd kind of like to see them make Andre Miller eat his words, and I will be rooting for a win, as usual.
Key to The Game: The size mismatches. Will McMillan attack them?
If ____________ the Sixers will win: Hmmn, let's keep it simple tonight and just say if Allen Iverson doesn't play the entire second half without a rest, the Sixers have a decent shot. (Yes, I've completely given up on meaningful minutes for Jrue under Eddie Jordan. I've accepted the fact that he's getting his token run the first half every night and will only be used after the break in case of extreme emergency, or injury to Willie Green.)
This is your game thread. I plan to be here throughout, but life may intervene. Join me in mocking the softest power forward west of the mighty Mississippi!