Before every playoff series this season, we’re doing some rundowns on the opposing roster for each team. Now that the Hawks have been dispensed with, we’re onto the Sixers. Here’s Part II. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Andre Iguodala: There are five guys in the league who have a claim on the title of Best Perimeter Defender, and Iguodala is one of them. He’s not Paul Pierce’s first request for a matchup on a sprained knee (that’s Jason Kapono). Like all perimeter defenders, Iguodala is capable of getting lit up for entire games (he let Luol Deng get away from him a bit in Game 6), but more often than not he’s going to limit Pierce’s options.
But if Pierce can tick up his rotations from the last couple Hawks of games, he’s just as capable of stifling Iguodala. He and the rest of the Celtics Defensive Gearbox need to get him to settle for jumpers and cut off his driving and passing lanes (Iguodala’s the team leader in Assist Rate by a hundred miles). It’s not a bad thing if the Celtics try to maximize Iguodala’s usage: right now it’s the lowest among all Philly rotation players except Lavoy Allen, because between the rim and the three-point line he’s just not an efficient scorer This matchup could neutralize itself, and I’m not sure which team benefits more if it does.
Evan Turner: Turner has a versatile offensive game. He’s way taller than Avery Bradley and his rebound rate is highest of any shooting guard in basketball (12.2, much better than Thad Young’s). He’s faster than Ray Allen. He’s capable of danger.
But here’s a tidbit: Philly’s current starting lineup was actually their worst lineup in the regular season. Holiday, Turner, Iggy, Brand, and Hawes were outscored pretty heavily (-63 in 144 minutes) and turned out the worst offensive AND defensive ratings of the team’s top 20 lineups. They were just weirdly awful.
But when you substitute Jodie Meeks for Turner in that lineup? It becomes arguably their best. +59 in 196 minutes. Look it up.
Lou Williams: Philadelphia has a reputation for sharing the ball and spreading out the scoring, but that’s not entirely accurate: Lou Williams gets the ball. Lou Williams uses the possession. His usage is six percentage points higher than the next guy on his team (Jrue Holiday), which is basically the difference between Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton. This is partly because he comes off the bench, but at that point he’s usually sharing the court with his team’s most efficient scorer, Thaddeus Young.
Lou getting the ball isn’t necessarily the worst thing for opposing teams: he seems to be shaping himself into a high-volume scorer like Kobe or Westbrook or Danny Granger, but he isn’t close to as efficient as those guys are yet. But Good that Keyon Dooling is gradually backing up the formerly-bizarre compliments he was getting from Doc about his defense, because Williams is going to be a handful when Rondo’s on the bench.
Thaddeus Young: The Philly blogosphere seems to generally consider Thad to be their regular season MVP. He’s almost certainly their best scorer: the only player on the team who consistently scores at the rim, but he’s got a decent midrange game, as well. His defense is also powerfully nasty for his size. He’s just extremely fast and strong and fun to watch, and he’s also notable for being the only living person named Thaddeus.
But rebounds are where you can really exploit the Celtics, and Young’s rebounding rate is straight-up stinkybutts. It’s worse than Brandon Bass’s. It’s worse than Antawn Jamison’s. So for that reason, and the fact that he’s going to be applying most of his defense to Brandon Bass, who would prefer not to shoot anyway: I could be more worried about this guy.
Jodie Meeks and Nikola Vucevic: These guys haven’t really played much in the playoffs. That’s good because Vucevic is an excellent rebounder.