In Kate Fagan's column today she talks about the remaining 17 games on the Sixers schedule, and the damage that can be done to this roster if tanking becomes the goal. I can't say that I agree, simply because I believe the damage has already been done. The first 65 games have already torn this team to pieces, and 17 more losses would absolutely do more good than harm. Their next opportunity comes at 6pm, in Miami. Preview and game thread after the jump.
One more quick word about Kate's column. In it, she sort of downplays the difference in lottery seeding. While she's absolutely correct that the difference between #9 and #7 isn't too large, the difference between #9 and #4 is monumental. Check out this chart:
Right now, the Sixers are 9th from the bottom, but they're only 2 games away from 4th. Two games away from increasing their odds at the #1 pick tenfold.
Obviously, the Sixers aren't going to come out and say they're intentionally losing games, and they aren't going to do something drastic like removing Iguodala from the starting lineup, but they certainly can do some things to increase their odds of losing. First, Iguodala doesn't need to play 40 minutes. Keep him around 30 for the rest of the season, and give Thad the extra minutes at the three. Second, there's no reason for Willie to play at all. Give his minutes to Jodie Meeks. Green is not part of this team's future, it's that simple. I'm not even sure you lose that much on the court with Meeks, we haven't gotten the chance to see him play. Third, limit Brand and Sammy to less than 30 minutes each (when Speights returns) and run Jason Smith and Speights out there, together if you can. In short, develop your young players, rest your important guys a little bit. Iguodala has carried a monumental load basically since coming into the league, let him take it relatively easy the rest of the way.
As for tonight's game, well the matchup to watch for me is Jrue on Wade. Jrue's defense has gotten sloppy recently, but I'm hoping he'll elevate his game against Wade.
Miami is currently jockeying for position at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, fighting to decide which team will make quick work of them in the first round. You can easily make the argument this game is more important for the Sixers. With a loss, they will fall into a three-way tie for 7th-worst record in the league with Detroit and New York.
This is your game thread, I'll be here throughout. Join me if you're around.