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Sixers at Pacers open thread 02/17/09

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Enemy: Indy Cornrows
Prediction: 96-93 Sixers
7:00 PM est
Previous meetings: 99-94 W, 94-92 W, 95-94 L
Probable starters:
Andre Miller PG T.J. Ford
Willie Green SG Jarrett Jack
Andre Iguodala SF Danny Granger
Thaddeus Young PF Troy Murphy
Sam Dalembert C Roy Hibbert

By no means is this going to be an easy game. As a matter of fact, this matchup will probably be among the most difficult for the Sixers in the coming weeks. On paper it certainly doesn't look like that's the case when you see the Pacers 21-33 record, but there's more to it than that.

First of all, the first three meetings between the Pacers and Sixers have been surprisingly close and exciting, for whatever reason. The three games have been decided by a combined 8 points. One was a 26-point comeback, one involved a T.J. Ford game-winner and the other was a good old fashioned dog fight, including the greatest game thread in Liberty Ballers history. Why these games have been so close and exciting is beyond me, but if I was a betting man, I'd put money on tonight following the pattern.

Secondly, this is the first game after the all-star break. Throw the Sixers 14-4 record in their past 18 games out the window. Momentum means nothing now. Last year the Sixers were just as hot into the break. They were riding a 5-game winning streak and had a "easy" matchup with the T'Wolves in the first game back. Without bringing back too many bad memories, the Sixers ended up falling flat on their faces, and were upset by the T'Wolves. Not only were they beaten, but they were blown out. Let's not have a repeat of that. The Sixers need to come out and start a new streak. With 7 of their next 10 games on the road, this is not the time to start the unofficial second half slow.

With every team starting fresh, the Pacers last two home games don't carry as much weight as they would if not for the break, but it's important to note that they have beaten both the Cavilers and the Magic in their last two home games.

You can guess the key to the game. Stop the three. The Pacers shoot it well. The Sixers don't defend it well.

I'm actually pretty excited to be back. The break was refreshing and now I'm ready for the playoff push. I played a buddy in 2K9 last night and Iguodala dropped 40 points. It got me excited to watch the Sixers in action for the first time in 6 days. Let's just hope they don't disappoint.

7 p.m. eastern. Be Here.