UPDATE: According to csnne.com, PG Lou Williams has been ruled out of tonight’s game, Jrue Holiday will start in his place. Elton Brand has also been ruled out.
Boston: 107.2 points/100 possessions (14th);
Philadelphia: 104.8 points/100 possessions (20th)
Boston: 97.6 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Philadelphia: 109.5 points allowed/ 100 possessions (24th)
Philadelphia probable starters:
Lou Williams*, Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert, Jason Smith*, Thaddeus Young
*Elton Brand injured his hamstring Tuesday night against the Wizards and is questionable.
Season series: 1-0, Boston (11/3: C’s 105, Sixers 74)
WHAT THE SIXERS DO WELL
• So far this season? Not much. The team has struggled to adapt to Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense, but the Sixers were a mediocre offensive club before Jordan took the coaching job and Andre Miller signed to be a back-up with Portland. Philly’s problems on defense are more surprising; the team ranks 23rd in points allowed per 100 possessions, down from 13th last season. In short: They have been bad on both ends.
• Force turnovers. This is the one Philly mainstay. This team thrives on steals and transition hoops, though their reputation as a fast-paced team is overblown; they rank 22nd in the league in Pace Factor, the average number of possessions a team uses in one game. But when they swipe steals and get on the break, the Sixers cause trouble. And the C’s are usually happy to oblige with turnovers.
WHAT THE SIXERS DO POORLY
• I think we covered this earlier, no? So let’s focus on a couple of things they do particularly poorly, like defend the three-point shot. Teams are shooting 39 percent from deep against them this season, the 4th-worst mark in the league. The C’s drained 14 of 20 from long range against Philly earlier this month, back when everyone loved Sheed and he was going to shoot 40 percent from three all season. Fun times.
• Rebounding. The Sixers were a monster offensive rebounding team last season. This season, not so much; they’ve fallen from 3rd to 21st in offensive rebounding rate, the percentage of available rebounds a team grabs on its offensive end. Trading Reggie Evans for Jason Kapono probably didn’t help, and neither did Elton Brand’s somewhat exaggerated demise into mediocrity. (His PER is still 17.0, you know).
The Sixers were a bad defensive rebounding team last season and they’re bad again this season. Can the C’s—the league’s 26th-ranked offensive rebounding team—take advantage?
• Shooting three-pointers. Philly (32 percent) still stinks at it.
PLAYER WHO MAKES ME WORRY
• Obviously, Andre Iguodala. He’s the best player of the team, he’s made some giant shots against Boston and he’s a brutal match-up for Ray Allen. But the C’s somehow managed to hold Iggy slightly below statistical averages last season.
PLAYER WHO DOES NOT MAKE ME WORRY
• We’re going plural: The bench. With Marreese Speights out until at least January with a partially torn knee ligament, the Sixers are left with the following bench players: Jrue Holliday, Rodney Carney, Willie Green, Jason Kapono, Primoz Brezec and Jason Smith (assuming he’s not starting for Brand tonight). Yikes. Holliday and Smith have looked good in small flashes—including in Tuesday’s loss at Washington—but that’s a sad bunch.
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR FROM THE C’S TONIGHT
• A beat down. The C’s are at home, the Sixers are on the second game of a road-road back-to-back and Boston has to be hungry to answer all the critics pointing out all the things that are wrong with them. The C’s defense has a major edge against a Sixers team with Speights out and Brand banged up. The C’s offense is due. Doc Rivers on Tuesday called the C’s execution against the Knicks “great,” which was similar to my gut reaction after the game Sunday. The offense generated good looks; the players just missed them.
That will change tonight, just in time for Thanksgiving. C’s 103, Sixers 87.