Having lost three games in a row for just the second time this season (the other being the 5 game skid just before the All-Star break), the Sixers hope woeful Charlotte Bobcats can be the answer they need to regain their form.
After riding Evan Turner's insertion into the starting lineup into a three game winning streak, things have turned south for the Sixers as they struggle yet again to score points. The Sixers have averaged just 84 points on 42.7% from the field over the losing streak while committing an uncharacteristic 11.7 turnovers per game.
(Note: 11.7 turnovers per game would still be the best ratio in the league. It's just higher than the Sixers norm, which was 10.3 per game heading into that stretch).
Turner himself has struggled, scoring only 19 points on 21 shots over the last two games while having more turnovers (8) than assists (7).
While the Sixers ran through a tough portion of the schedule, the Pacers haven't been playing their best ball of late (they've lost 6 of their last 8, with the only wins being over the Sixers and the Blazers), and the Bulls were without reigning MVP Derrick Rose.
Regardless, the Sixers will now go up against the 7-36 Bobcats. Which Evan Turner will show up? Which Jrue Holiday? Can Spencer Hawes integrate himself into the lineup effectively? It probably won't matter. The Sixers have been virtual locks to win blowout sub-.500 teams, and despite this game being on the road (where the Sixers are only 9-11), I expect this to be much of the same.
Charlotte boasts a league worst ranking in: Offensive Efficiency, Efficiency Differential, eFG%, and eFG% differential. They're also second worst in Defensive Efficiency and Opponents Turnover Rate.
One thing of note in the Sixers previous two wins against the Bobcats was that starting point guard D.J. Augustin has missed both games. After a career year last year (15.9 PER, 54.1% true shooting percentage, 6.2 win shares) Augustin has struggled to replicate that (15.3 PER, 51.2% true shooting percentage, 0.8 win shares). The guy who replaced Augustin in the lineup both games, Kemba Walker, has had a moderate amount of success in the two games, both easy wins for the Sixers. The rookie guard is averaging 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, but on 37.9% from the field and with 2 turnovers per game. Corey Maggette scored 22 points (to go along with 2 rebounds and 0 assists) in the one game he played against the Sixers.
Also of note has been the play of rookie center Bismack Biyombo, who is averaging 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in only 24 minutes in 18 games as a starter, all of which have come in the last 1.5 months.
Overall, the Bobcats have averaged only 80.5 points on 39.9% from the field in the two games against the Sixers, and the Sixers have dominated the defensive glass, holding the Bobcats to 8 offensive rebounds (on 43 misses) and 4 offensive rebounds ( on 43 misses) in the two games played.
All in all, I'd be upset if the Sixers didn't win by 15 points.
Game thread will be up tonight at 6, with tip-off at 7 PM in Charlotte. The game is on TCN, so sadly any Verizon FIOS subscribers will have to suffer through standard definition video.