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The Battle For Seventh

It looks like Andre Iguodala will make his return - after missing seven games - against the Indiana Pacers tonight in Philly. Not a moment too soon, either. With a win, the Sixers will pass Indy for the coveted number seven seed in the Eastern Conference. Let's take a look at the keys.

Here are the game capsules from the first meeting (a loss in Indy) and the second (a win at home.

Yesterday, Doug Collins said he won't use Iguodala for his typical 40 minutes, he's going to ease him back in to get him back into game shape. I'd be surprised if he played less than 35 or so, though. Regardless, it's going to be a breath of fresh to have him back on the floor to lock down Danny Granger. I've had enough of Nocioni trying to hang with guys on the perimeter.

We've got the Jrue vs. Collison storyline, which is always interesting, but that's not the key to this game. For me, the biggest factor is going to be stopping Indy's energetic, yet under-talented power forwards from stealing possessions on the offensive glass, and picking up garbage hoops with nothing more than hustle. Hansbrough and McRoberts are the types of aggressive bigs who can have a big impact with their energy, especially if the Sixers bigs are feeling soft. They aren't good players, by any means, so don't let them impact the game. Just match their energy and don't give them the freebies.

Hibbert got off to a good start, but he's pretty much an inefficient big man at this point who doesn't rebound particularly well. Beyond the danger of hyperactive power forwards, the three point line will be key. Collison, Granger, Dunleavy and Brandon Rush all like to shoot it and shoot it above league-average. Chase them off the line.

Finally back at full strength (probably), at home, against a team they're in competition with for a playoff berth. This one has to be a win.

Prediction: PHI 107, IND 92

The tip is at 7pm. Game thread 90 minutes prior. Also, the game capsule from the Detroit game is up now. Your thoughts and prediction in the comments.
by Brian on Jan 11 2011
Tags: Basketball | Indiana Pacers | Previews | Sixers |