Two rookie wings showing great potential. Two young bigs contributing up front. And Beno Udrih. That's the formula for the upstart Sacramento Kings. I'm legitimately looking forward to this game.
Paul Westphal has the Kings offense running at an extremely high pace, 7th-fastest in the league. They score efficiently, which is a miracle considering the extended absence of Kevin Martin, but they don't defend. At all. I mean, they're better than the Sixers in defensive efficiency, by a decent margin, but they're still only 25th in the league.
They hoist a ton of threes, shoot at above league average, despite over 2 attempts per game from rookie phenom Tyreke Evans at a woeful 25%. If you can get Evans to shoot threes, you've done your job. If we see Beno (42.9%), Omri Casspi (43.9%), Andres Nocioni (37.3%) or Sergio Rodriguez (37.5%) getting open looks from deep, however, this could be a long game.
Evans has really been stellar this season, he's averaging a gaudy 20/5.1/4.9, getting to the line frequently and maintaining an impressive FG% despite the horror from three. In fact, he's shooting 49.3% on two pointers. They're getting solid offensive production out of Jason Thompson at the four as well.
The matchup to watch is Iguodala on Evans, clearly. I'm certain Iguodala will get the defensive nod against Evans, and I'm hoping the favor is returned on the other end. If Iguodala can cut off driving lanes and keep Evans on the perimeter, he should be able to severely limit the kid's efficiency.
Expect Eddie Jordan to again start Iverson and Lou Williams in the back court, meaning one of them will be on Beno (Iverson probably) and the other on Casspi. Casspi is 6'9", weighs 225 pounds and from what I've heard, he's super-aggressive on the floor. He gets to the line quite a bit (as do most of the Kings). In short, he's a matchup nightmare for either of the Sixers' starting guards. If Westphal recognizes this mismatch, he could ride it for long stretches, forcing the Sixers to adjust their rotations, although I'm not sure Jordan would make such adjustments.
Sacto lacks shotblockers in a big way, and their bigs are young. If given the minutes and the ball, Elton Brand should back up his outstanding game in Portland with another.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict another win for the Sixers. In some backwards way, Allen Iverson's presence has forced Eddie Jordan to dump everything he believes in, play better lineups and the results on the floor don't look horrendous. Sacto is a team on the rise, but the Sixers have enough mismatches that I believe they'll win a shootout.
Key to The Game: Uh, three-point defense.
If ___________ the Sixers will win: I'm going to say a DNP for Willie Green, because I think his return will cut Brand's minutes.
This is your game thread, I'll be right here throughout, so join me and leave any tips for highly-caffeinated beverages to help me get through it.