When the Sixers take the floor tonight in Memphis, Marreese Speights will most likely make his 25th start for the Grizzlies. In three-plus seasons in Philly, Speights started a grand total of 4 games. Speights has put up gaudy numbers in a couple of games (20/18, 19/9, 12/15) which has left many Sixers fans asking "Why couldn't he play here." Well, the gaudy numbers are great, but at the end of the day, he's still the same Marreese.
The funny thing about Speights is that he's been really bad since joining the Grizzlies (.472 TS%), but he's been bad on the offensive end in a what that is almost unique to the Sixers. He can't shoot, but he never turns the ball over. If he could spell defense, he might've found some minutes under Doug Collins.
Speights is a sideshow for this game, a sideshow that I'm sure will bite the Sixers, but the main event is happening on the perimeter and in the middle. Iguodala gets a chance to put the screws to his Team USA buddy, Rudy Gay. On the other end of the floor, Memphis will probably sick their defensive stopper, Tony Allen, on Jrue and Lou. Those should be a couple of really fun matchups to watch. Allen, Vucevic and Brand covering Marc Gasol might not be quite as much fun.
As has been the case for the past seven games or so, the Sixers need to start getting production from their back court, and when I say production, I mean efficient points. The slump continued in Minny, against a group of sub-par perimeter defenders. Tonight, they'll have a much tougher matchup, but they're going to need to rise above their recent malaise if the three-game losing streak is to be stopped from reaching four.
In terms of matchups up front, I think you probably stick Brand on Gasol to start, let Lavoy sort of chase Speights, but if he's trigger happy and the 20-footers aren't dropping, just let him take them. In fact, see if you can lure Memphis to feeding him the ball again and again because he won't stop shooting them.
These are two like teams in that they both tend to win ugly, or at least the Sixers have been winning ugly lately...when they win. On the other hand, though, this is a classic unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. The Sixers never turn the ball over. Memphis leads the league in forcing turnovers. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say if the Sixers keep their turnovers at or below 12, they'll win the game. Memphis struggles on the offensive end, they need to get in the open court (sound familiar). I know taking care of the ball has been viewed as possibly stifling the team's offensive opportunities, but in this game, against this team, with this offense, don't cough it up and you have a pretty good shot.
The tip is at 8pm. Game thread will land around 5. This streak of losses needs to end. More importantly, the longer streak of shoddy play (going on 7 games now) needs to end.