Jackassery aside, the Sixers positively gave their first game against the Wizards away. Actually, to be fair, even though they played horrible defense and sent Washington to the line 43 times, they still should've won. A Cartier Martin prayer three at the buzzer sent it into overtime, after all. Will the Sixers be able to exact some revenge tonight, back in Washington?
Coverage of their first meeting.
Keep an eye on the injury situation throughout the day. Yesterday, I heard a report that John Wall might return for this one, and all signs are also pointing to Andre Iguodala being back in the lineup. It'll be a refreshing change to see the Sixers fully healed and well rested. I hope they took full advantage of their three off days, because tonight's game is the beginning of another grueling stretch. Four games in five nights, two back-to-backs, and in the back end of both, the opposing team has at least one day of rest. The schedulemakers really stuck it to the Sixers this year.
Anyway, more pressing matters are at hand. The Sixers have ridden a couple of solid defensive efforts against offensively-challenged teams right back into the top ten of defensive efficiency rating, and they should improve upon that mark tonight. Despite scoring 116 points the first time these teams met, Washington has the 28th-ranked offense and really very little skill on that side of the ball. Wall is explosive, but he's their only legit weapon at this point. Gilbert Arenas is a shell of the washed up guy he was prior to the gun suspension and after the myriad leg problems. Andray Blatche is like Charlie Villaneuva, only lazier. Arenas and Blatche combine for 8.7 long twos per game. Just let them keep chucking from out there.
The Wizards as a team can't shoot the three, they don't rebound particularly well, they turn the ball over too much. If you're gameplanning for them, you basically just need to stay out of their way and let them do exactly what they want to do on the offensive end. Cut down on the fouls and let them shoot jumpers all night long.
On the offensive end, just take care of the ball. JaVale McGee is a legit interior defender, but Flip Saunders is reluctant to play him more than 25 minutes/game. When he's not in there, the lane is wide open. Arenas is about three steps slower than he was back when he was merely a disinterested defender, so you can imagine what he's like at this point. At any given time, two of Turner, Jrue and Iguodala will probably have a mismatch. As long as McGee isn't on him, Brand has a mismatch. Thad can do work against whoever's guarding him if they keep getting him the ball facing the hoop from 15-18 feet away (which they should), and Lou feasts on undisciplined perimeter defenders. Scoring should not be an issue.
This is the only game of the next four in which the Sixers aren't facing a significant disadvantage either in raw talent or horrible scheduling. They need to take advantage in a big way.
Prediction: Sixers 110, Wizards 98
Matchup I'm Looking Forward To: Jrue vs. Wall, part 2. (did you realize Jrue is less than three months older than John Wall?)
Tip is at 7pm, game thread will be up at 5:30.