Tonight's game in Memphis is a perfect opportunity for the Sixers, and that's how they need to approach it. Calling it a must-win is silly at this point in the season, so let's just call winning a priority. The next five games are crucial, Memphis is a bad, bad team. Just get the job done. Philly is a five and a half point favorite, on the road. After the jump we'll take a look at the stats, talk a little bit about what the Sixers need to avoid and have our in-game discussion.
Soak it in, Sixers fans, because this is one of the few games where the Sixers will enter as the clear superior team on offense. Surprisingly, Memphis only holds the edge in free throws, an area the Sixers usually dominate. On the other side of the ball, Memphis takes care of their defensive glass much better, the Sixers own them in every other category.
Memphis is coming off a win against the Clippers in which Marc Gasol nearly notched a triple-double. Prior to that, they had dropped 8 straight games. Mike Conley left their game on Wednesday with a chipped tooth (that knocks you out of a game? Sissy.), but he'll be back tonight.
I took a quick look at Memphis' box scores since they last played the Sixers on February 11th. A couple things jumped out at me:
- Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Conley dominate the shots for this team. Gasol is very efficient, but he rarely gets shots.
- Hakim Warrick, who torched the Sixers back in February, is having a hard time finding minutes.
The way I see it, there are two pitfalls the Sixers need to avoid against Memphis, the first is turnovers. Memphis does a good job of converting them, and they have the athletes to convert in the open court on the wings. The second is to protect the defensive glass. They nearly lost to Memphis in February, and the simple reason was 14-5 o-board advantage Memphis had. Warrick had 6 o-boards by himself, to go along with 31 points.
If the Sixers can force turnovers, get stops and get out on the break, this one should not be close. Mayo and Gay will dominate the ball, pretty much ignoring their most efficient option on offense, Gasol. Meanwhile, the Sixers should be able to run Gasol right out of the game, he doesn't seem to be the most fleet-footed big in the league, and to be honest, the guy is a little chubby. He can't keep up the pace.
The tip is at 8pm. I'll be right here, so join me for the in-game discussion in the comments.