For the second time in five days, the Sixers will take on the Indiana Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back. This time, the odds are stacked even more in the Indiana's favor. The Sixers are coming off a backbreaking overtime loss to the Wizards. Their only interior player of any note, Elton Brand, played 42 hard minutes last night. Meanwhile, Danny Granger put into practice a skill he perfected while playing for Team USA this summer...he sat around and did nothing.
For the first time in his brief career on the bench for the Sixers, Doug Collins will see a team for the second time. It's time for him to earn his money. He saw what the Sixers were able to do against Indy on Saturday, he saw what didn't work. What adjustments will he make tonight? More importantly, how is he going to juggle his frontcourt rotation while dealing with Elton Brand, who has to be running on fumes at this point?
Here's a quick look at the minute breakdown from last night's game:
- Elton Brand, PF 42
- Jrue Holiday, PG 41
- Andre Iguodala, SG 38
- Lou Williams, PG 32
- Evan Turner, SG 28
- Thaddeus Young, F 18
- Marreese Speights, C 17
- Andres Nocioni, F 16
- Spencer Hawes, C 16
- Tony Battie, C 9
- Jason Kapono, SF 7
The only guy we really need to worry about is Brand. Jrue should be able to play 80 minutes in one game. Unfortunately, without Elton Brand on the floor, this team is helpless with a capital H. The Pacers have been dormant since beating the Sixers on Saturday, so Jim O'Brien has had plenty of time to figure out that no one on Philly's roster has a prayer against Roy Hibbert. Wondering how many touches he'll get tonight.
Forgetting the x's and o's for a second, let's go ahead and talk about things like guts, toughness, veteranness, killer instinct, what have you. No, I don't want to talk about how Andres Nocioni is just so much more valuable than his numbers indicate simply because he's so damned savvy. I want to talk about players and a team having the ability to forget they're tired and put 48 minutes of effort on the floor under tough circumstances.
I'm pretty sure the Sixers are going to lose tonight. If the script holds, they'll come out fine, maybe lead or trail at the half, then they'll get run out of the gym in the third quarter before starting some semblance of a comeback which will ultimately fall short. This isn't about their trend as a team in general, it's about what happens when teams play tired. If they're going to be able to get their first win, they're going to need to avoid that lull after the break. When their legs feel heavy, they're going to have to fight through it. They can't let themselves be a step slower after the break, they can't get lazy in chasing down boards. They can't jog back on defense. If they dig a hole for themselves with lackadaisical play, they probably aren't going to have the energy to dig themselves out.
So a tired team off to an 0-4 start, playing in an empty home arena after a tough loss to a terrible team last night. Yeah, I'd say a solid effort would say something about the character of this team. More of the same, well, that would probably carry the opposite message, wouldn't it?
The tip is at 7pm. Game thread will be up at 5:30pm. Thoughts and predictions in the comments.
Prediction - Indiana 104, Philadelphia 89