Last week could've been better, could've been worse. As long as the Sixers get back to what they did for the first 14 games of the season, it was simply two wins and two losses. As long as they shake off their second half letdown against Miami, or better yet, use it as fuel for a relentless attack on the Wizards tonight, it won't mean a thing. (Check out my latest from SB Nation Philly)
it looks like the Voose will definitely be out tonight, while Hawes is listed as a game-time decision. If they're without both guys, Doug Collins is going to have to be creative with his lineups. Washington's pitiable roster should make that more than possible. Since the Sixers swept their home-and-home with the Wizards nine days ago, the Wiz have put together a few decent outings, including a win over the Thunder and two close losses to the Nuggets and the Celtics. The Celtics game, however, was yesterday and they had to play John Wall heavy minutes (42). That's an advantage I expect the Sixers to press tonight.
There are a couple of keys to the game. First, you want to encourage Andray Blatche to shoot long twos. Think about the last two games and how they "defended" Josh Smith and Chris Bosh (in the first half). They basically dared those guys to shoot long, uncontested jumpers. I'd use the same strategy for Blatche at the beginning, even if he hits a couple of them. It'll pay big dividends later, and allow Brand to help box out McGee on the offensive glass. One big adjustment I want to see from the last time these teams played is to move Andre Iguodala over to Nick Young on the defensive end right from the opening tip. Meeks didn't do a bad job on Young, but I still don't like the idea of letting him get into a rhythm early in the game. It's a waste to put Iguodala on Chris Singleton. Meeks can just as easily stand around and watch Singleton not take any shots (11.4% usage rate).
It's gotten to the point where I have absolutely no idea what to expect from Jrue on the offensive end, he could be great, he could be gunning bad shots all night, he could be setting guys up, he could have tunnel vision on the hoop. It's a coin flip at this point. Until he straightens himself out (or Collins sits him down and very clearly defines his role) we're just going to have to hope he keeps his dominant defense going, because they're going to need it tonight. John Wall has been all over the place (terrible vs. DEN, awesome against HOU), but much more explosive since these teams last met. If the Wizards are going to score in any kind of meaningful way, Wall is going to be the engine behind it. Jrue needs to cut off his penetration and make him a jump shooter.
It's odd to say this, but shutting down Javale McGee also needs to be a priority, and this worries me a bit because the Sixers have even less personnel to do it than usual. Battie is no match for JaVale's athleticism. Just dare him to shoot jumpers, again.
I'd like to see Evan Turner get some extra burn tonight. I think it's time for Collins to use the carrot with him, instead of the stick. He played a great game against the Heat, he should see 35 minutes tonight, if possible. One way Collins could find extra burn for ET would be to run a super-small lineup for portions of the game with Iguodala at the four and Turner at the three. Blatche isn't the type of PF who's going to go down to the blocks, and even if he does, Igoudala can handle him. They won't lose anything on the defensive boards, and it would be a good way for Collins to steal some minutes at the 4/5 with a depleted rotation.
The tip is at 7pm, game thread will land around 5. Check out my latest from SB Nation Philly. What do you guys think? Will the Sixers bounce back and take their frustrations out on the hapless Wizards?