The Sixers will try to climb above .500 for the second time this week tonight. Standing in their way, the Boston Celtics and the guy pictured above. Can they do it? Can they go into Beantown and take down the mighty Celtics in front of their own crowd? All signs point to no, but there are a couple of things the Sixers can do to make the odds a little more favorable, so let's take a look.
First of all, Willie Green's minutes need to be kept to a minimum tonight. The Sixers either need to go with their big lineup, Dalembert, Evans, Thad, Iguodala and Miller, or they need to go with their super-athletic lineup, Dalembert, Thad, Iguodala, Carney, Miller. Both lineups will provide a wrinkle which Boston will have to deal with. If you trot Dalembert, Evans, Iguodala, Green and Miller out there, Boston will settle down and play their game. We can't have that. We can't have a huge deficit in the first quarter. Beating Boston is going to be tough, coming back to beat them, nearly impossible.
When the big lineup is on the floor, Dalembert needs to guard Garnett one on one. This will probably give Garnett free reign on the perimeter, which is fine by me. Let him drop 30, just don't double him. Let him have his points but don't leave the shooters open on the perimeter. Reggie Evans slides over to Kendrick Perkins and should be able to keep him off the offensive glass. Thad takes on Pierce, Iguodala on Allen and Miller on Rondo. I like those match-ups. Thad and Iguodala should be able to keep Pierce and Allen out of the lane, Rondo is quicker than Miller, but he isn't going to kill you.
An added bonus is this, having Thad out there at there is a death sentence for Pierce's minutes. On every possession, make, miss or turnover, Thad sprints down the floor on offense. No hesitation, the ball is secured and he's a blur. Pierce can't do that for 30+ minutes. It's going to translate into either easy hoops for Thad, or a very tired Pierce. Ray Allen is little more than a gunner at this point of his career. He sits on the perimeter and takes long jump shots. When Iguodala challenges a deep shot, he leaks out. Long misses turn into easy hoops on the other end. Another offensive advantage gained on the defensive end.
When we get to offense, you've got the inherent mismatch of Iguodala on Ray Allen. Allen can't hang with him off the dribble or in the post. He should be able to break the D down regularly, draw extra defenders and dish for dunks and easy hoops.
The other option, the super-athletic lineup, would basically be used to run the Celts ragged. Trap everything out on the perimeter, press on makes, make the Celts burn 10-12 seconds before they even get into their half-court offense. This lineup would put Thad on Garnett, which would mean abuse in the post, most-likely, but they'd be much better equipped to double and rotate with Iguodala and Carney on the floor. They should also be able to create turnovers and easy offense.
I hold no illusions about this game. It would be a tremendous upset if the Sixers could pull this one off. I would, however, like to see Mo Cheeks change things up a little bit. Playing the same rotation and using the same general game plan hasn't worked against the Celts this season, and it probably won't tonight. Try something different. Make Boston adjust to you. That's the best shot the Sixers have. Take a page out of the Warriors' playbook from last year's playoffs.
The tip is at 7:30, let's get over the .500 hump, huh?