Well, here we are. The Philadelphia 76ers begin their "Lord of the Rings" type journey towards the 2010-2011 NBA Championship tonight. It's been a long spring, summer, and early autumn for fans of NBA teams not worthy of making the playoffs last year. We saw one of the most bizarre summers in sports history when it comes to free agency and player movement. But how exactly did we, loyal/handsome/cross-eyed Sixer fans get through the tumultuous offseason?
Right after the Sixers were blown out by the Magic, Eddie Jordan was the opposite of iced (fired for those who aren't sure what the word 'opposite' means). Derek and I shortly made our way to the NBA Draft lottery where we locked arms with Jrue Holiday, secured the number two pick, and let Jrue pimp out his favorite Sixers blog on the interwebs (while also solidifying his nickname, 'The Jruth'). The Sixers found a replacement for Eddie in TNT analyst Doug Collins. For some reason unbeknownst to me or Jason Alexander (the one who married Britney Spears for five seconds), I felt the need to compare the roster at the time to various characters from LOST. In a move that came out of nowhere, Sam Dalembert was forced to take his talents to Sacramento in exchange for dudes from Washington and Argentina. Mike started a relationship (it's on Facebook, so it's official) with Evan Turner as the Sixers drafted him. Summer league happened for the good (Holiday) and not so good (Turner). Tony Battie became the most important (only) free agent signing of the summer for the Sixers. We all got a little Thorny. We started our own rap group. The Sixers front office decided we had to learn to cope with life after Willie Green sooner than expected. Marreese Speights said funny things on the internet. The preseason started slowly, and ended with a (channeling my inner Mike Breen...) BANG!
And now, we're here, ready for the season to begin. It may not exactly be under the circumstances that I or many fans hoped for, but we're here to support our team nonetheless. And tonight, we support them as they look to extend the Miami Heat's one game losing skid (overrated, they're awful, big three my bum, Wade's lost it, they can't play together, one game overreactions rule!) to an astounding two.
The first preview awaits you after the bob omb. Once you enter, the season has started, and there's no escaping until at least April. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Do it.
Projected Starting Line-Ups:
PG: Jrue Holiday vs. Carlos Arroyo
SF: Jason "J-Kap" Kapono vs. LeBron Jimmy (I'm on a last name nickname basis with him)
Clearly, this starting match-up does not favor the Sixers no matter how you slice it (diagonally please, with crust). Last night we saw Boston drop it down low early and either finish inside or draw the double and kick to Ray Allen or Paul Pierce for jumpers. When they didn't go inside, Rajon Rondo worked Arroyo on drives either going in himself or racking up assist after assist after assist. So why can't the Sixers do the same exact thing?
First off, this line-up doesn't have a post player that would need to draw the double-team. Brand can't use size and length like Kevin Garnett did against Bosh to consistently get off the mid-range, turnaround jumper he's so wonderfully mastered throughout his career. And let's face it, Hawes isn't going to bang down in the post against Joel Anthony like Shaq was able to do at will.
Now, of course, Jrue Holiday could probably mirror the style of play Rondo adapted against Arroyo. The only problem, chances are Arroyo will be over on the perimeter making sure Kapono doesn't get open three after open three. I expect to see Wade stick Jrue whenever possible. However, if that hamstring is still a little tweaked, Jrue may be able to get into the lane and score himself or kick it to the outside for an open jumper.
There's also one other thing that's semi-important heading into tonight. It's one of the Sixers' birthday boy's first regular season NBA game (Evan Turner in case you've been living under a strange looking moss-covered rock, although I hear they go for cheap this time of year). The summer league wasn't exactly the best of times for the Villain. His inability to give some fans the "WOW Factor" they expect out of a number two overall pick led to claims that he's a bust, he's a softee, and he's the next Adam Morrison. Much like the reaction to the Heat's performance last night, those claims are probably rational and spot-on (please note sarcasm). Evan will come off the bench tonight, hopefully sooner rather than later (development, development, development, development, development is important to the future).
It's also the first regular season game for Doug Collins as new sensai of the 76ers. He became the coach preaching defensive efficiency and his ability to teach the game. During his first years coaching all three of his previous teams, he was given the task of developing high draft picks. Two worked out (perhaps you've heard of Michael Jordan and Grant Hill?). The other? Not so much. Let's hope that Turner, the fourth high draft pick Collins must mentor, becomes more like the former than the latter.
Wait a tic. Teacher? Doug? Yep, it was only a matter of time before this bad boy made its way on here: