Philly and Detroit square off in the first of two games with tremendous seeding implications. If the Pistons win both, they have an excellent shot of digging out of the eight seed. If they lose both, they face an uphill battle. As for missing the playoffs, I'm not too worried. Charlotte has back to back games against the Lakers and Celtics.
6:00 pm ET
Philadelphia: 37-34 (16-19 road)
Margin: +0.7 ppg (+0.3 last 25%)
Last 10: 7-3
Pistons: 35-37 (18-19 home)
Margin: -0.7 (+0.2 last 25%)
Last 10: 3-7
The 76ers have given the Pistons fits over the last couple of seasons. That said, I should apply the same principle as against the Lakers. We are not putting the same personnel on the court as in previous games.
Philadelphia is a team that likes to take it to the basket. That's putting it mildly. As a team, they take 13 three pointers per game, making only 32% of them. They compensate for this with a slashing style of play that is also relatively efficient. With the exception of Lou Williams, who has been an utter disappointment, they shoot the ball well, and also grab plenty of offensive rebounds.
Speaking of disappointments, Elton Brand is the most depressing NBA story this year. Fortunately for the 76ers, rookie Marreese Speights has picked up a fair amount of the slack, albeit in limited time. His play has been enough to offset the Willie Greening of Lou Williams and the increased mediocrity of Samuel Dalembert.
Technically, this game could be a second round preview. If that happens, the only thing you'll hear in NBA headquarters is a shotgun blast, muffled only by David Stern's mouth.
Keys for Detroit
Speed it up: I'll say this until I'm blue in the face, but Curry's "midget-grind" style is exactly what Philly wants to see.
Force jumpers: You know how teams were always playing zone against Stuckey and Iverson? Same concept applies here. If Andre Miller hits six threes, there's not much you can do.
Get Speights in foul trouble: How many young careers have been ruined by coaches' over-emphasis on fouls? Speights is looking like a classic case.
Question of the Game
Will Iverson and Sheed suit up? Curry seems to keep hinting that this is happening, but we won't know until closer to game time.