Actually, It's Pronounced "Mill-e-wah-que": Sixers Take on Bucks to Move Above .500

Actually, It's Pronounced "Mill-e-wah-que": Sixers Take on Bucks to Move Above .500
November 11, 2011, 9:02 am
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Who's going to be starting at center tonight? That's the question that
should be on everyone's mind as the 2-2 Sixers host the 1-4 Bucks
tonight at the Wagon. In the team's first four games this season,
Spencer Hawes has not looked up to the 4-year, $20-million-dollar
contract he signed in the off-season, averaging just six points and five
rebounds in 30 minutes a game, while getting absolutely destroyed by
Andrea Bargnani and Dwight Howard on defense in the team's losses to the
Raptors and Magic.

Kwame Brown and Alexis Ajinca, the two ex-Bobcat bargain-basement
signings the team made in the off-season, are both options at the pivot,
but certainly neither are without their drawbacks, as Ajinca's offense
is predicated on his jumper, which proved erratic in the pre-season, and
as the team's primary backup, Brown has proven unable to stay out of
foul trouble. Meanwhile, Coach Collins has continued to appear
supportive of Hawes, insisting that he'll be find and saying he just
needs to "shake off a little rust from the off-season." (Of course, many
of us remember Hawes playing like this at times well into last season,
so we'll all be curious to see exactly what a truly rust-free Spence
looks like.)

Another area in flux for the Sixers is their positioning at the
wing. Hot off his 5-year / $45-million extension, Thaddeus Young has
started off the season on fire, averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds a
game on 54% shooting in just 28 minutes a game off the bench. In the
meantime, Andre Iguodala's shooting woes continue, going just 4 for 16
last night (including a cringe-worthy 0 for 5 from downtown, with only
one or two of them being even close) to bring his shooting average down
to 32% for the year. With Evan Turner off to a fairly decent start (10
points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds in 25 minutes a game, with only five
turnovers across the four contests), it's hard not to wonder if 'Dre
doesn't feel a tad bit superfluous on the team now, and should his
scoring struggles continue, we wouldn't be surprised to hear the trade
talk heat up again—maybe this time with the Spurs, who just lost
starting three Richard Jefferson for 2-3 months with a gimpy knee.

Two positions in which the Sixers do appear to be set so far,
however, are at the one and the four. For the latter, Elton Brand has
picked up where he left off last season as the team's Mr. Consistent,
scoring between 12 and 18 points and grabbing between 8 and 12 boards in
each of the team's games so far. And as we all knew (well, hoped) he
would, Jrue Holiday just continues to get better, scoring a career-high
33 points (and dishing out seven assists) against the
defensively-deficient Rockets last night. Most encouraging were the
couple key jumpers that The Damaja hit down the stretch to ice the game
for the Liberty Ballers—if for no other reason than because he was the
one who took them, and not Iguodala. "I'm just glad Coach trusts me with
the ball in my hands late," Jrue said after the game. "I've been
working hard my first two years here to gain that kind of trust, and
hopefully I showed him tonight that I deserve it." Word.

7:00 tip tonight from the Wells Fargo Center. A win tonight would
move the Sixers above .500 for the first time this season, a shaded
region that the Sixers hopefully plan on spending much of the year
within. At the very least, they appear off to a better start than they
were last year, when they dug themselves into a 3-13 hole it took them
till February to crawl out of. "It's totally different [this year],
absolutely," Elton said in an earlier press conference. "Last year, it
took a couple months for us to believe in each other, in Coach, in
ourselves...this year, we really think that we got this." Yeah, Elton,
we sure hope so. 41-41 just ain't gonna cut it this time around.

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