Boston at Philadelphia
Wells Fargo Center
7:00 PM EST
Boston: 105.1 points/100 possessions (13th)
Los Angeles: 104.5 points/100 possessions (15th)
Boston: 97.7 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Philadelphia: 102.2 points allowed/100 possessions (9th)
Probable Sixers starters: Jrue Holiday (PG), Jodie Meeks (SG), Andre Iguodala (SF), Elton Brand (PF), Spencer Hawes (C)
View from the Opposing Bench: Philadunkia
It’s close, but next to the Heat, the Sixers have probably provided the C’s with their most exciting games this season. Refresh yourself:
You’re looking at Atlanta in 2008, with this team. Chicago in 2009. Chicago or maybe Milwaukee in 2010. Those low-seed teams that nobody wants any part of in the first round. It’s been Boston’s privilege to match up with these teams two out of the last three years, and it may be their privilege again this year.
There are some fun statistical measures for figuring out which team is That Team. One is point differential, where Philadelphia is outscoring their opponents by two points per game, better than the Knicks and substantially better than the Hawks. But even more fun is how a team performs against the betting spread. Philadelphia is the best team in the East against the spread this season, which means that they tend to outperform expectations, which is basically what a sleeper is. In the West, the best team against the spread is Memphis, which also passes the eye test of a young, underrated squad that’s going to give some team fits in the first round.
WHAT THE SIXERS DO WELL
Finish at the rim. Like most NBA sleepers, the Sixers run on athleticism, and they have a lot of guys who can slice their way to the fakakte hoop. Thad Young and Iggy Dollar have cut up the C’s interior D both episodes earlier this season, and with all the mishegas with the Boston front line, you should see more of that tonight. The one mitzvah for the C’s tonight is that the Sixers don’t make as many attempts in the inner area as they should. They tend to take most of their shots from 10-15 feet (first in the league), and that’s objectively the wrong thing for them to be doing. Actually, that may be the biggest thing preventing the Sixers from making the leap: they’re already a superior defensive team, and they have the tools to be a lot better on offense. What if they figure it out right when the playoffs start?? Oy vey zmir!
WHAT THE SIXERS DO POORLY
Take/make threes: The Sixers have a much better grasp of their abilities from outside the arc than they used to. Doug Collins, while a gentle koala bear at the announcers’ table, is basically R. Lee Ermey as a coach, and he doesn’t want his team taking shots they can’t make. They now take the 3rd-fewest threes of any team in the league, and they’re 18th in the league at converting them.
Iguodala used to be much more of a chucker than he is now, and that’s the old Doug Collins discipline revealing itself. Iguodala is not a good three point shooter, and he probably shouldn’t even be taking the 2.7 per game he’s at now, but the trend is moving in the right direction.
PLAYERS THAT MAKE ME WORRY
Almost all of them, really. Iggy, Young, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, and exhumed Elton Brand can all blow up on any given night. They don’t generally synchronize their scoring outbursts, but they happen. But I’ll say Jrue Holiday. Our mutual friend Ryan DeGama laid out earlier today that Rajon Rondo is wiped, because he has virtually nobody behind him (Carlos Arroyo, supposedly brought in to spell Rondo, was playing alongside him against the Clips). Jrue Holiday was the youngest player in the league last year and thus bears with him the irrepressible optimism and energy of youth. He’s super fast, and he can shoot. He munched on Nate Robinson earlier this year, and Nate Robinson might have been a better defender than Rondo is right now.
Also his ringtone is Katy Perry’s “Firework,” and he doesn’t see anything odd or embarrassing about that at all. Ball-er. 0:32 in the video.
PLAYERS THAT DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Evan Turner. I want him to do well, and I think most of his issues are anxiety-related. One good step for him is that he’s going to the rim more, because he absolutely cannot shoot. Imagine how good the Sixers would be if Turner were better than, say, Landry Fields for example. It would also be fun to see a guy who sounds like Ray Romano become a superstar.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE TONIGHT
The end of the Troy Murphy Countdown. A bunch of minutes for Carlos Arroyo at the point (again, that’s honestly the only purpose of his signing, is to give Rondo a rest). KG to come back from his abysmal shooting night on Wednesday. And it would be nice for this one not to require a last-second tip in.
I think this one will be as close as the others. C’s 97, Sixers 95.