East Rutherford, New Jersey -- where it takes us longer to pronounce East Rutherford than it takes to catch a basketball, then dribble the basketball, then run into Andre Iguodala, then fumble the basketball, then recover the basketball, and then heave the basketball 50 feet down-court. Sounds unreasonable right? Yeah, well...
I honestly still can't believe that happened, but it did. We got over it. The Nets still suck. We're officially in the playoffs. They're not. And the player who hit that shot? Yeah, he got balled up by some british dude. The worst part? 4.5 million people watched it.
Sorry, that sounded bitter. It was. But I had to get it off my chest.
Tonight the Sixers will return to the scene of the crime, and attempt, yet again, to distance themselves from the Heat for the number five seed, and gain ground on the Hawks for the four seed. It's stupid to call tonight's game a must-win, because EVERY game from here on out is a must-win.
According to John Hollinger's stats, the Nets actually look like a better team. They have a pretty nice "big 3" in Devin Harris, Vince Carter and Brook Lopez, but I think their numbers can be a little deceiving -- especially Harris and VC.
In Hollinger's PER ratings, Harris ranks as the 13th best player and Vince comes in at 35 -- in comparison to Andre Miller at 47 and Iguodala at 52. This is where I have a real problem with PER. I think the team stats Hollinger accumulates are very useful -- the individual PER, not so much. I strongly believe the Miller/Iggy combo is much better than the Harris/Carter combo, and they'll prove so tonight.
The Sixers actually match up pretty well with the Nets. We all know the Sixers offense isn't exactly dominant, but they'll receive a little help from one of the worst defensively efficient teams in the league tonight. The Nets are also toward the bottom of the league in 'rebounding rate' and 'offensive rebounding rate'. Perfect! This will cover up the Sixers shortcomings on the glass.
The only problem I see with this match-up is New Jersey's perimeter shooting. They're dropping nearly eight per game. Shooting threes against the Sixers is different. You have to apply dog-year like math. In that case the Nets could hit 56 threes tonight. The Sixers can't let that happen. The amount of threes the Nets take and make is going to determine the outcome of the game. I'm setting the magic number at 34. If the Sixers hold the Nets to less than 34 percent shooting, they're guaranteed to win. If not, well then, we're in trouble.
One more thing to keep an eye on is the Sixers playing time. This is the second of a back-to-back and both Andres played 45 minutes against Detroit. It'll be difficult to ask them to do it again.