For over a month now I've had tonight's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves written down as a loss. After that five-game West coast swing, with a short turnaround, I figured the Sixers would suffer the usual letdown upon returning home, against an opponent that it would be easy to underestimate. Now that the day has arrived, I think this game will tell us a lot about how much this team has grown, and how badly they want the number five seed.
The biggest statistical mystery of the 2008-2009 NBA season, as far as I'm concerned, is why Mike Miller is averaging only 7.3 field goal attempts in over 32 minutes per game on this Timberwolves team. It defies logic. To provide some perspective, Rodney Carney is averaging 5.4 FGA per game in only 15 minutes, and Carney is shootin 40% from the field this season. Ponderous.
Anyway, the Sixers should watch tape of the Sacramento game to get ready for this one. On that night, they completely blew Sacto out of the water for the first 24 minutes, and they did it with defense. Not only were they getting steals, but they were causing unforced errors and they were doing it with unbelievable energy. That first half was the best example I can recall of the Sixers playing like clearly out-classed their opponent and they were not going to be denied.
Over the past couple of seasons, the Sixers have had a ton of trouble with the T-Wolves. Craig Smith and Ryan Gomes have given them way too much trouble for a couple of limited power forwards. Rashard McCants had his way with them on a couple of occasions. Luckily, for the Sixers, Al Jefferson is MIA this time. Jefferson torched Dalembert back in November to the tune of 25 points.
The T-Wolves seem content to have their offense dominated by their two starting points, Sebastian Telfair and Randy Foye. I say let them stick with their game plan. Foye shoots 41% from the floor, which is stellar when compared to Telfair's 36.7%.
You know you're in trouble when Brian Cardinal is getting burn for you. Kevin McHale has used Cardinal for more than 20 minutes in 6 of the past 8 games.
The more I look at the stats, the more I think this game just has to be a win. You can't lose to a team like this under any circumstances. Forget letdowns, just go out there and get the job done.
The tip is at 7pm. I'll be here for the start of the game, probably until 8pm, then I have to watch the end on DVR, so you guys will have to carry the torch in the comments.