Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
Philadelphia 76ers: 15-21 (5-15 road)
Detroit Pistons: 11-24 (8-8 home)
I know, I know-- we're all too buzzed on all the head-tilting news this weekend, where Tom Gores may wind up our new owner and Rip Hamilton may be on his way to New Jersey. Nothing breaks the monotony of another losing season like potentially franchise-righting news. There is, however, a game tonight-- the Philadelphia 76ers visit the Palace for a middle-of-the-pack showdown.
Quietly, calmly and very much under-the-radar, the Sixers have clawed their way into the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The 8th seed is pretty much perfect placement for this team, who is about as middle-of-the-road as it gets. In nearly even team-wide statistical category, the Sixers are right in the middle between the good teams and the bad. In terms of pace, field goal percentage allowed, rebounding, scoring efficiency, offense/defense efficiency-- it's crazy, play around with a sortable team stats page, you'll find Philly right in the middle of pretty much everything. The lone exception is turnovers, with Philly leading the league in taking care of the ball.
Philly's stand-out player this season hasn't been rookie Evan Turner, but a healthy Elton Brand who averaged a 14 and 10 double-double in December. Brand is the Sixers' leading scorer and rebounder, a veteran voice that is helping this otherwise young team find its groove. On the wings, Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala are keeping the ball moving, combining for 13 of Philly's 21 assists per game. Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young (who is having a career season in per minute production) are providing plenty of firepower off the bench, combining for 24 points per game. In all, this is a surprisingly effective cast that doesn't make many mistakes and has proven to be competitive against the league's best teams.
Keys to the Game:
Move the Ball: Cut and Paste.
Hey!: The Sixers are a pretty solid perimeter defending team, they don't have a real shot blocker and they tend to foul above the league average on penetration. So dribble penetration is a good idea tonight, but be sure to keep your mind on ball movement.
Force Doug Collins into an Ejection: If he's off the court, MCIAFI takes over. Guaranteed Pistons win.
Question of the Game:
Rodney Stuckey returns to the starting lineup tonight. Can he quiet the doubters (myself included) and run a solid offense with this still new starting crew?
Links of Liberty For Thee I Sing: