Does the streak end tonight for the Philadelphia 76ers? It's hard to say with much certainty: The Brooklyn Nets are coming into the matchup with a 5-8 record, four days removed from a 99-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Joe Johnson and Co. have lost six out of their last seven contests, and the Nets' aging roster - their average age of 29.8 years is third-highest in the league - has struggled this year against teams that like to get up and down the floor.
But it would be reckless to ignore those things that we can't exactly measure, and we're clearly at (past?) the point where teams will leave nothing in the locker room when facing the Sixers because PRIDE. Sure... the Nets' sub-par rebounding (24th in the NBA) and three-point shooting (22nd) are good omens for our favorite passionate, intense and proud basketball team, but then again, no one wants to be the Sixers' first.
76ers/Nets on Thanksgiving Eve is a hard sell (even for the Sixers' 101 sales people), but the point guard battle Michael Carter-Williams and Deron Williams should (hopefully) be worth your time. Williams (17.5 PPG, 10.5 APG vs. the Sixers last year) put up an impressive line against the Spurs on Saturday (24/5/7/2/2), so he'll serve as a solid test for MCW, who is two days removed from scoring a season-high 24 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
Lead guards aside, tonight's game also happens to be a tale of two philosophies. The Sixers' rebuilding plan is now at the notorious stage, and the way the team hoards cash would make Tim Cook proud. Conversely, Brooklyn's lavish spending habits were called "unhealthy" by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in a recent interview with GQ Magazine. Time will ultimately show which method worked better, but there's no denying that Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov has paid quite handsomely for each of those eight playoff wins over the past two seasons.
As Jake Pavorsky pointed out earlier today, the Sixers match up pretty well against the Nets physically, and Henry Sims/Nerlens Noel should be able to hold their own vs. Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. Expecting Sims to go off for 20-plus two games in a row is probably a stretch, but he has been playing well of late (11.3 PPG over the past nine games), while Lopez has been struggling defensively.
So while it may not be likely (Vegas has the Sixers pegged as a 8-point home underdog), a win tonight isn't completely impossible. At the very least, it should be a more competitive contest than the first time these two teams met last season: a game in which Brooklyn shot 21-for-35 from deep en route to a 130-94 victory. Joe Johnson (who scored a career-high 37) remembers that one quite fondly.
(For the record, there is no truth to the rumor that the winner of this game receives the services of Andrei Kirilenko for the remainder of the season.)