Time to Deep-Six the 76ers

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Published: January 26, 2009

Matchup: 76ers(21-21) @ Hornets(26-14)

Off Efficiency: 76ers 102.8(22nd), Hornets 107.5(7th)
Def Efficiency: 76ers 103.0(8th), Hornets 103.9(14th)

Philadelphia arrives in New Orleans tonight to try and continue a recent surge up the standings.  After starting the season 13-19, they’ve won 8 of 10 contests on the back by locking down defensively and using their athleticism to force turnovers and get easy buckets.  They really need those easy buckets too, because outside of transition, their offense is anemic.  The team is composed mostly of slashers, and none of them are better than average shooters from the three point arc.  Even taking to account their dunks and layups, the Sixers are still the 8th worst shooting team in the league, but they do have one strength that almost makes up for it:  Rebounding.  The 76ers grab 31% of available offensive rebounds, good for 2nd in the league.  The Hornets had better box out or we’ll see a put-back fest.

The 76ers big free-agent acquisition, Elton Brand, came back this weekend for the first time in about a month and played 13 minutes.  The team had some problems fitting him in earlier in the season with their slashing, running style, but he’s still a weapon to be worried about.

For the Hornets, the word out of New Orleans is that Tyson Chandler may not come back until after the All-Star break(three weeks from now), and that David West may or may not come back sometime this week.  Oh, and Hilton Armstrong is still a game-time decision, though I get the feeling he will play.  Byron is being forced into adjusting his lineups with all the injuries, and he’s clearly worried by the small-ball lineup the 76ers have been using over the last ten games.  He’s stated that should Brand be inserted into the lineup tonight, he’ll stick with Ely and Marks in the front-court, but if they don’t and run out the small-ball lineup he’ll probably start someone else at Power Forward.  He was, of course, cagey about who it was.  Posey?  Wright?  Bowen? Does anyone else make any sense starting at Power Forward?  I’m hoping it’s Wright, of course, which means I’m also hoping they go small.

Injuries

76ers: None
Hornets: West, Chandler out, Armstrong questionable.

Positional Analysis

I decided to do the Positional Analysis with the 76ers going small.  Just so I can put JuJu into a starting lineup and feel warm and fuzzy.

PG: Chris Paul v Andre Miller
Advantage: Hornets
Andre Miller has always been an under-rated guy.  He’s strong and clever with the ball, makes good decisions, and play solid defense.  His mid-range game is great, and he’ll get his points.  I’m a little worried about Paul because of the massive load he’s been having to carry recently.  You can tell he’s doing way more than is usually required of him by looking at his turnovers.  He’s been forced to force the issue a little more, and since the defenders can load up on him, he’s losing the ball more often than normal.  Still – a guy who puts up 25, 11, and 5 with 2.5 steals?  I’m willing to let him lose the ball 4-5 times a game.

SG: Willie Green v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Hornets
I don’t like Willie Green.  He can finish in transition, but he’s below average in pretty much everything else – shooting, passing, rebounding, defending.  Rasual Butler is preferred.

SF: Andre Igoudala v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: 76ers
Andre is the 76ers leading scorer, but he only takes 13 shots a game.  Andre isn’t much of a shooter, but he’s athletic, gets to the hole, crashes the offensive glass, and is deadly in transition.  His defense can be spotty, but its usually pretty good.  Peja has been unleashing all of his offensive weapons over the last few games, and he’s averaged 1.3 points per shot – up from 1.1.  That’s a nice, solid number, and if he keeps it up against the 76ers athletic defense, he’ll do much to neutralize this advantage.

PF: Thaddeus Young v Julian Wright
Advantage: 76ers
Young and Wright, along with Al Thornton of the Clippers were the three major small forward prospects in their draft.  Young and Thornton were tossed into big roles almost immediately with their teams, but Julian has struggled getting off the bench.  Of the three, Young and Wright are almost identical in potential – and this would be an extremely exciting matchup for me.

It’ll probably be Marks and Young – or Marks and Brand.  In which case, Marks will miss a bunch of long jumpers, and get destroyed defensively.  Destroyed.

C: Samuel Dalembert v Hilton Armstrong
Advantage: 76ers
Dalembert is essntially a slightly worse Tyson Chandler – right down to having a pretty poor year. Dalembert doesn’t have the pick and roll game of Tyson, but he blocks shots a little more effectively, which could be a problem since the Hornets rely on Paul’s penetration for offense without West.  If Hilton plays(and I think he will), he’ll give us some points inside, and never manage to corral any contested rebounds at all, prompting me to spit with fury.  Like a Camel.  A really, really, grumpy Camel.

Bench
Advantage:
76ers
The 76ers run Lou Williams, Marreese Speights, Elton Brand, and Royal Ivey off their bench.  Brand and Speights off the bench is pretty sweet.  Both are slightly undersized big men, and both can crash the boards to great effect.  Brand has yet to find his shooting touch this year, but Speights is a handful scoring under the glass, and Brand can still get putbacks easy enough.  Lou Williams can get it going in a Pargo-esque sort of way, so expect the offense from the second unit be Lou driving and missing – and Speights and Brand putting it home, since the Hornets have been terrible over the last month at keeping guys away from the boards for easy putbacks.  I fully expect 15 easy points in the paint from the 76ers reserves.  Sigh. 

I don’t know what’ll come off the Hornet’s bench tonight.  Posey and Daniels definitely, the rest mix and match.


Hey Jeff Bower, I know you are reading this.  Please trade for a big man who can rebound.  We need one even when West and Chandler do come back!  Please!

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