Tonight's matchup with the Golden State Warriors will have many similarities to the game against the Suns -- fast breaks galore, points in the 120's and little defense. But that's where the similarities end. Unlike the Suns, the Warriors aren't fighting for a playoff spot. Unlike the Suns, the Warriors aren't well rested. Unlike the Suns, the Warriors are not a quality team. And most importantly, the Warriors do not have a 325 pound monster manning the middle. The loss against the Suns was somewhat excusable. A loss tonight won't be.
Now, it's almost a guarantee that both teams will score a lot of points tonight. I'm fine with that. All I'm asking is that the Warriors points are earned. The other night against the Suns, the Sixers probably played some of the worst interior defense I've seen all season. Normally that's one of the Sixers strong points, and rarely do I tab 'interior defense' as a key to the game. However; the Sixers allowed the Suns to shoot 58 percent from the floor and score 80 points in the paint! That's unheard of. Were the Sixers physically and emotionally exhausted from the Lakers game? Was Shaq just too much to handle? It's hard to tell, but that cannot happen tonight, especially when the Warriors lone big man is Ronny Turiaf.
After beating the Lakers, coming back from the road trip with anything less than three wins would be a huge letdown. With two games against Western Conference bottom-feeders -- the Warriors and the Kings, they have a great opportunity to do just that. I have less and less confidence that they can go into Portland and beat the Blazers on the tail-end of a brutal road trip, so they have to win these next two games.
I see the Warriors as a good match-up for us. Once again this is a Lou-Will/Mo Speights/Thad Young/Iguodala type of ball game. Hopefully Speights plays, and plays well. He has the ability to destroy every Warriors big man. He won't be on the court for very long if he can't play defense. He looked god-awful on that end of the floor Wednesday night, and was benched for it. This is your time M16. I'm predicting a bounce-back for the big man.
One more thing that worries me going into tonight is the Warriors ability to get hot from downtown. And trust me, they're not shy about jacking threes up, even if they're missing. The Sixers are going to have to play 48 minutes of perimeter defense otherwise their biggest weakness will come back to haunt them yet again. Surprisingly the Sixers have held opponents to 18-57 from beyond the arch in their last three games. That's 31 percent. That's actually really good. Let it continue tonight.
- Interior defense
- Perimeter defense
- Free throw shooting!
Happy Friday, and good luck on your brackets. So far we have a three-way tie for first between Mike P, Justin M and Tanny. Watch out for me though. I'm coming.