Tonight the Sixers will host the Milwaukee Bucks in their first game without Thaddeus Young. Every game from here on out is as important as ever. After watching the Sixers win over the Hawks last night, all I could think about was how sweet it would be to draw them in the first round. In order to make that happen, the Sixers are going to have to wrestle the fifth seed away from Miami, and do so by winning games like tonight's.
The big question is, who will start at power forward? My gut says Reggie, and I think it's the right move. That said, someone is still going to have to fill the void left by Thaddeus on the offensive end. Attention Marreese Speights: Your team needs you to step up big time. They need the dude who dropped 24 on Amare and the Suns. They need you to go into "beast mode", starting tonight.
Whether or not Marreese steps up or not is still in question. What's not in question, is the fact that the Sixers come into tonight's match-up as the better team, facing better circumstances.
The Sixers will be playing their second of a three-game homestand, while the Bucks will be coming off a back-to-back against the Lakers. The Bucks are tired. The Bucks have nothing to play for. The Bucks are 12-27 on the road. They're without their two best players.
I expect nothing less than a blowout, and I think we'll get it. The Sixers should be back in that "we got something to prove" mode. Many think the Thad injury will be too tough to overcome. Wrong. This team is different. In the past two years they've absorbed everything that's been thrown at them: key injuries, being the underdogs, horrible starts, fired coaches, and they have overcome it all. There's no reason they can't do it again.
Thad's injury hurts; there's no question about that. But don't proclaim the season over just yet. If the Sixers can somehow manage to get the fifth seed and weather the storm until Thad is able to return, watch out. This team has shown that they can go into any building, and beat any team, on any given night -- playoffs included. However; they've also shown that they can lose to any team on a given night. That's the beauty of following them.
Normally I look at the opponent's stats, specifically three-point shooting. Not tonight. I don't believe tonight will be about stats or numbers. I believe it will be about who comes out with the most energy and who wants it more. Tonight's about rallying around a fallen teammate, and winning one for number 21.
I'm pretty fired up, and I hope the Sixers follow suite. They're getting closer. I can smell 'em. I can taste 'em. April is officially upon us, and the playoffs are only 2 weeks away.
Now everybody with me, "AHHHHHHHHH!!!"
Two words describe what I want to see tonight -- killer and instinct.