Sixers vs. Cavs: Will Anthony Bennett Score? Can Evan Turner Sustain It?

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

I talked to Fear The Sword's Conrad Kaczmarek, a lovely boy whose name I can spell without looking.

The Sixers and Cavs have their first game of the home-and-home tonight at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:00. Justin has all you need to know about the return (is it a return?) of Andrew Bynum, which mostly is "Don't Be A Psycho Dick, Please."  The Cavaliers enter tonight's game at 2-3 with playoff aspirations and Kyrie Irving. The Sixers are 3-2, atop the Atlantic Division, and some say the best team in NBA history.

In advance of this historic NBA matchup, Conrad Kaczmarek and I talked about it.

LEVIN

Hello, Conrad. I am happy to converse with you once again.

So to set the stage for this exercise, I'll be a Cavs blogger and you'll be a Sixers blogger. Let's see where this takes us. Aaaaand action.

How's everything there in Philly, bruh? Basketball Twitter went kind of insane over that 3-1 start. Meanwhile I'm sitting here - IN CLEVELAND -- getting stoned by my neighbors for still believing in Anthony Bennett.

CONRAD

Life’s pretty good. I got a little bit nervous for a little while with all those wins, but thankfully we’re back to looking like the horrible team that we all expected. For some reason, Spencer Hawes couldn’t continue playing like an MVP for more than 3 games and now it looks like we’re back on track with the tanking.

What about the start to your season though -- losses to the Bobcats and Bucks? What the heck? You think you’re gonna make the playoffs with that?

LEVIN

Not worried. Small Sample Size Theatre and all that. I'm more amused by the Anthony Bennett hysteria than worried about it. We knew he was a project, he had injury issues, there's talent ahead of him. He'll be fine.

Waiters took some time to get comfortable last year too. Tristan is crazy improving. Role players hanging in there. But really just give the ball to Kyrie and let him run the team.

And Bynum... well I'd rather not say to you. Let's say he doesn't look as awesome as Spencer does.

CONRAD

Yeah, I mean…as a Sixers blogger, I still have a great love for Andrew Bynum. He had so many good times in Philly with our team, so it’s hard for me to be bitter about how things ended. He was an stand-up guy while he was here and really meant a lot to this city. Mostly, I’m just happy to see him have some success because I care about him so much as a person. I’m sure the Sixers home crowd shares my sentiment and will give him a nice warm welcome.

What have you thought about the Bynum experience thus far?

LEVIN

I like Bynum go Bynum he is not a shell of himself no not at all he's been nothing but delightful go Bynum hey Cleveland go Bynum.

MCW vs. Kyrie. Looking like the two leading MVP candidates. Can MCW use his length to limit Kyrie? I don't think so.

CONRAD

Yeah, I don’t know. MCW has been a revelation and I think most of it is semi-sustainable, other than the outside shooting. Will MCW be able to defend Kyrie?

I don’t know. Can anybody defend Kyrie? I’m interested to see what you think about Evan Turner. He’s been tremendous this season, but how long will that last? I know some Cavs fans are fed up (already, somehow) with the lack of production from the SF position. If we’re trying to continue our tanking efforts, might we trade Turner or perhaps Thad Young to the Cavs to fill their void at that position? After all, Wiggins will be starting at SF next year for us anyway.

LEVIN

Jrue did a pretty decent job on him last year.

But Kyrie has even better handles this year, and with the Sixers having no rim protectors, I think he gets his tonight and tomorrow.

(I like the passive-aggressiveness with which we're awkwardly trying to pretend to blog for the other team. Let's switch back.... NOW!)

Thad's a 4. It would take a decent amount for the Cavs to pry him from the Sixers. Hinkie won't move him unless he gets proper value back -- Thad's a part of the future here. Evan, meanwhile, isn't. He's playing pretty excellent offensive basketball (22 points on 55% shooting with 5.6 FTs per game) but his contract is expiring and the Sixers just let his QO pass them by. It would probably take something like an expiring, a lotto-protected 1st, and a young guy for it to happen. Clark/Karasev/pick? You probably think that's too much. Not sure how excellent a lineup of Kyrie/Waiters/Evan would gel, either.

But yeah Wiggins would be nice.

CONRAD

So I’m a Cavs blogger again? Cool.

I don’t want Turner at all. Not even a little bit. I don’t think he fits. I think this is all a mirage and he’s the same player that he’s always been. Let’s talk about the pace of these games. The Sixers have been running like mad. I expect the Cavs to absolutely lock down defensively tonight after their debacle against the Bucks. What do you think the final score of these games look like? Over 100 for each team? In the 80s?

LEVIN

Yeah the Sixers won't let anyone score less than 100. It's against their morals. Anthony Bennett will score. Promise.

I disagree on Evan a little. You have to consider the fact that he played his first three seasons under Doug Collins, who is maybe the worst offensive coach ever conceived. The biggest knock on him was his inability to score within the team concept. Now, he's getting to the line and scoring off the ball, letting MCW run things. Sure, he has his Bad Evan moments (trying to ISO on Andre Iguodala was hysterically fruitless for a number of reasons), but I think he'll continue drawing fouls and finishing at a higher rate than last year inside. I think he'll be an All-Star or at least he'll be statistically deserving of a berth.

Anyway, 114-101 Cavs. Bynum gets booed like JD Drew.

CONRAD

I’m letting you know right now that if the Cavs let Philly score 100 tonight then you’ll most definitely win on Saturday because Mike Brown will be furious and hold an impromptu 6 hour defense practice after the game tonight.

LEVIN

They've scored 100+ in 4 of 5 games. Mike Brown better start getting his speech prepared.

CONRAD

Cavs have held opponents under 100 in 4 of 5 games. Which team will assert their will? Something’s gotta give. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE.

But yeah that’ll be interesting. We should wrap this up and post it for our readers and hope they can follow along with our nonsense. Final thoughts?

LEVIN

I can only wish you the best of luck and know that while I love a number of the players on your team, the Sixers have the benefit of being in a win-win situation. They lose, we win. They win, we win. It's a beautiful position to be in.

CONRAD

It’s a beautiful position to be in right now. In game 5. Talk to me in February. It’s great for the longterm future of the team, but it wears on you. I love tanking as much as you, but as a fan of that team, it takes its toll. But this is a conversation for another day.

*****

We've heard this tanking argument from people before. Conrad's one of the good ones -- he gets tanking while maintaining the frustrations of a losing team -- but this is the point with the Sixers. We know what to expect. We know not to watch every game. We're playing for May.

We'll be just fine. No matter what happens tonight. Go Sixers. Go delighted apathy.

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