Well, both the Sixers and Knicks won last night, meaning that the
seventh and eighth seeds are still uncertain going into play tonight.
Presumably both teams would prefer falling to eight and playing the more
manageable Chicago Bulls—Clyde Frazier said on the MSG broadcast last
night that the Knicks would have an easier time against the Miami Heat,
but I doubt anyone actually believes that—but both teams will have their
work cut out for them if they plan on losing tonight. Even with resting
arguably their top five guys tonight—Jrue Holiday should be joining Lou
Williams, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala on the
bench—the Sixers still have a shot against the 24-41 Pistons, though Detroit
does somehow have a 17-15 record at the predominantly empty Palace at
Auburn Hills this year.
The result of Philly's game won't matter, though, assuming New York can
manage to take care of business against the worst team in NBA history.
Normally, you'd expect that the surging Knicks would have no problem
sweeping up the 7-58 Bobcats, but with no real incentive to win (Orlando
clinched the #6 seed by beating Charlotte last night), you can expect
that New York will be sitting at least a handful of regulars. Of course,
the Knicks' second-stringers are probably still superior to the
Bobcats' A Squad, but Charlotte will be looking to avoid history—by
winning one more game, they can avoid ending the season with the worst
winning percentage in NBA history, a mark still held by our proud
'72-'73 Sixer squad. Could be a toss-up, though you'd like to believe
that the team that's lost 22 games in a row will find a way to squeak
out just one more L before season's end, and allow us to slink
comfortably back to the 8th seed.
Tonight's Sixers matchup will be interesting beyond the playoff
implications, if only for the added freedom for Evan Turner. Last night,
Turner quickly emerged as the team's go-to scoring option with all
their, uh, more traditional scorers on the bench, and he did a fairly
decent job at it, posting 29 points (though he needed 29 shots to do
it), 13 rebounds and six assists, carrying the team to victory against a
somehow-even-more-undermanned Milwaukee Bucks team. If the team trades
Iguodala and lets Lou walk in the off-season—which they really, really
well should—this is the kind of role we're going to be seeing Evan in a
lot more, and if he can build on games like last night's, that's a good
way to get the post-Lou/Dre era started. (NO JINX NO JINX NO JINX NO
8:00 tip from the Palace. No matter who they play in the first round,
the Sixers will play their Game One on Saturday. Evan Turner hopes it's the Bulls. Needless to say, you should too.