The Sixers' upcoming schedule isn't ideal (11 of their next 13 are on the road), but at least we'll be able to get a good handle on a team that is struggling to find its identity on offense.
Or maybe we won't.
With point guard Jrue Holiday sporting a walking boot at practice on Thursday, all signs are pointing to the Sixers embarking on their toughest stretch of the season without their best player.
Evan Turner and Nick Young (!!!) are slated to log most of the minutes at the point if necessary (Royal "Smoke" Ivey will miss the game due to strep throat), but even so, the Sixers will be hard pressed to replace Holiday's 18.4 points and 8.9 assists per game.
Even with Holiday in the lineup, the Sixers looked anything but Luvabull in a 96-89 loss to Chicago on Wednesday. Hopefully, the two days between games was enough time for a "fatigued" Sixers' team loaded with twenty-somethings to fully recover.
A 76ers' squad that struggles on the glass will have their work cut out for them tonight: Indiana leads the league in rebounding (46.4 RPG) thanks to the efforts of forward David West (8.6 RPG) and center Roy Hibbert (8.4 RPG). In 22 games this season, the Pacers have only been outrebounded six times.
The Sixers and Pacers split their four meetings during the 2011-12 campaign: Thaddeus Young led the 76ers with 14.5 PPG, while West averaged 19.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting. And despite the fact that the winning team has scored 100 or more in 10 of the last 12 matchups, don't expect a lot of points in this one: Philadelphia and Indiana both allow less than 95 points per game, and the two teams are both in the bottom five in the league in scoring.
Player to watch: Paul George
Indiana swingman Paul George is a grown ass man, and has been the focal point of the Pacers' offense as Danny Granger continues to deal with patellar tendinosis in his left knee.
Over his last five contests, the 6'8" George is averaging 24.4 PPG, and is shooting nearly 54 percent from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, Doug Collins really doesn't have much choice other than to have Turner check George on defense. With so much expected out of ET on both sides of the ball tonight, it'll be interesting to see how effective he'll be against the Pacers.
Odds and Ends:
- The Pacers have held their last eight opponents to an average of 89.6 PPG.
- Discovery.com chose the AMC Pacer as the ugliest car of all time.
- Attendance at Pacers games is so bad that not only is the team offering ducats for $5, but they're also throwing in a free lottery ticket to boot!
- Speaking of tickets, the folks over at TiqIQ can set you up with really good seats for tonight's action.
- The television show "One Day At A Time" was actually set in Indianapolis. I'm probably the only one reading this who actually remembers that show.
- If we at Liberty Ballers are the Hatfields, then the folks over at Indy Cornrows are the McCoys. Check them out for some blue-and-yellow goodness.
Prediction: Pacers 94, Sixers 84 (assuming Holiday doesn't play)