The Philadelphia 76ers will look for their 20th win of the season when they travel to Charlotte to face the Bobcats Monday night. Last year they didn't record their 20th victory until game 45; tonight is the 29th game of the season.
Charlotte is easily the worst team in the NBA with a record of 3-24 and 14 consecutive losses – 9 of the last 11 by at least 10 points. They rank dead last in rebounding rate and offensive efficiency, and 29th (out of 30) in defensive efficiency.
D.J. Augustin and Derrick Brown are the only two players on the Bobcats roster with an above average PER (player efficiency rating), and Augustin has missed the last 10 games with a broken big toe - he won't play tonight either. Gerald Henderson will also miss tonight's game with a hamstring injury. Spencer Hawes is still out for the Sixers.
The last time these two teams met the Sixers cruised to an easy 89-72 victory. Since then the Bobcats have had a few players return from injury and inserted the super raw, but talented rookie, Bismack Biyombo into the starting lineup. The last time the Sixers saw the Bobcats their starting lineup consisted of Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Boris Diaw, Tyrus Thomas and DeSagana Diop. Tonight's lineup will likely look a lot different, with Walker and Diaw remaining, joined by Biyombo and the returners from injury, Corey Maggette and Reggie Williams.
The Bobcats are in better shape than the last time the Sixers played them, and they'll be playing at home instead of the Wells Fargo Center, but the Sixers cannot lose this game. They've really only lost one game they weren't supposed to all season – an overtime loss to Deron Wiliams and the Nets – and this is a game they really shouldn't lose. It'd be terrible for the Sixers' psyche if the Bobcats snapped their 14 game losing streak against them.
Charlotte leads the league in long twos attempted, most shots allowed at the basket, and least amount of opponents' long twos. The Sixers should be able to get any shot they want tonight, so if they settle for long twos, that's on them.
Philly is the much better team so they have to come out and play like it. This is the NBA and any team can beat any other team on a given night. If the Sixers come out sluggish and let the Bobcats out-work them, they could suffer an embarrassing loss. Focus and effort is going to be the key tonight, more than anything else.
Let's see if Jrue can build on his best game of the season. Free throws, shots at the basket, Fruity Pebbles, let's do it.