Give a listen to ESPN's NBA Today podcast today. About 10 minutes in, Ryen Russillo says, "The Toronto Raptors have the worst roster in the NBA." The Sixers will put that theory to the test tonight in a battle of the Eastern Conference's two worst teams, record-wise.
This team has basically been unwatchable for the past three games. Doug Collins is quickly running out of gimmicks to hide the fatal flaws of the roster. Andre Iguodala will miss his second consecutive game with his pesky achilles strain. Spencer Hawes seemingly gets slower with each passing game. The schedule has been insanely stacked against the Sixers, and tonight is another example. They finally get a game they should win, and they're playing the second night of a back-to-back, a day after finishing a monster five-game road trip. Their fourth game in six nights.
Without Iguodala, I'm not even sure we can say the Sixers should be favorites against the 2-9 Raptors tonight. Brand should be able to do work on the inside. Thad and Lou should be able to score off the bench, but as far as winning and losing go, it's probably going to ride on the shoulders of Jrue and Turner. They both need to score. Jrue needs to set up his teammates, Turner needs to pick up the rebounding for the sad front court and both of them need to defend.
On the one hand, these guys are supposed to be the future, maybe it's good for the team to live and die on their performance as they mature into their roles. On the other hand, they're both young and learning the game at this level, so pinning your hopes to them is a risky proposition, at best. Not to mention the fact that each of these guys could go off and the team's frontcourt could still lose the game on the glass.
It's a dire state of affairs for our beloved Sixers, so much so that this is my matchup to watch:
Spencer Hawes vs. Andrea Bargnani - Possibly the two most useless centers in the NBA. Both rebound like weak point guards. Neither plays a lick of defense. They're both slow, they both kill their teams on both ends of the floor. The main differences between these guys is that Toronto doesn't seem to realize exactly how bad Bargnani is, while the Sixers are at least aware of the situation to the point where they keep his minutes below 15 in most games. Oh, and Bargnani does have one marketable skill, shooting the three, whereas Hawes is best known for unnecessary half-hook shots designed to avoid passing through the hoop while also avoiding contact which may send him to the line.
In all seriousness, though, lose this game and the Sixers will cement their laughingstock status for the foreseeable future.
Prediction: Sixers 101, Raptors 96
The tip is at 7pm, I'll be here throughout. Game thread will be up at 5:30.