Losing to the Raptors on opening night was a disappointment, but you can live with it. The Raptors are a good team, they made a major addition, and honestly, the Sixers didn't play a clean game. Under those circumstances, you'd expect a loss. You don't like it, but you understand it.
Tonight's game against the Knicks is an entirely different animal. The Knicks are 1-0, having barely held on to beat the Heat on Wednesday night, 120-115
. The two men pictured above, super-heavyweight Eddy Curry and certifiable-lunatic Stephon Marbury, are no longer a part of the plan in New York. Riding the pine for an extended period of time should do wonders for Curry's figure and Marbury's psyche, no?
What's so different about this match-up as compared to the Raptors? Well, everything. Mike D'Antoni has brought his "7 seconds or less" offensive style to the Knicks, brought in Chris Duhon to run the show, but he doesn't have the horses. In fact, if tonight's game turns into a track meet, the Sixers have a clear athletic advantage at four out of five positions on the floor, and the advantage by a wide margin.
Not only can the Sixers run with the Knicks, they can run them right out of the gym. If the Knicks want to play a helter skelter tempo, we should see Iguodala, Thad and Lou absolutely dominate in the open floor. If the Sixers decide they want to slow things down a little bit, the advantage continues to grow. Not only do the Knicks lack any kind of interior defense, they don't have a single shot blocker on their roster. They didn't block one shot in their game against the Heat.
Elton Brand can set up camp on the low blocks, make whatever move he wants to and not worry about a single player on the other side. He should own this game.
There's one more thing that should favor the Sixers tonight. In game one, they only forced 9 turnovers. Jose Calderon is one of the best guards in the league at taking care of the ball. He kept the Raptors' offense under control, handled pressure and didn't force any passes into tight spots. The Knicks, on the other hand, are not so careful with the ball.
I'm expecting a high-flying, fast-breaking, points-in-the-paint bonanza tonight from the Sixers. If they don't win this game by 20 I'll be shocked. If they lose this game, well, it's going to be awfully tempting to hit the panic button. Funny that the second game of the season has me a little bit on edge, but after the summer of moves and expectations, I want to see this team perform up to its potential quickly. Hopefully it starts tonight.