You should never get too cocky in this league, and it's not like the
Sixers have been lighting the NBA on fire the last week or so—in their
last three games, they've lost to the Spurs and Clippers, and went into
cruise control in what probably should have been a blowout win against
an undermanned Cleveland team. Still, it's hard not to feel about as
confident as possible in a win going into tonight's game against the
Charlotte Bobcats. Them dudes is 3-24 for the season, with zero wins in
their last 14 games—miserably short on professional-caliber basketball
players and seemingly destined for one of the highest of lottery picks.
There's no real point in talking matchups here—if the Sixers can't take
care of business, it'll be due to some sort of team-wide malaise that
causes them to do bad all the things they normally do good—but let's
look at a couple things with the Sixers themselves that might be worth
focusing in on:
1. Can Evan Turner reclaim his minutes? What started out a dynamite
second year for the Extraterrestrial has gone a little south, with Coach
Collins cutting his PT (no games over 25 minutes since Feb. 1st) and no
clear reason why. Granted, Turner does one or two things a game that
cause Coach Collins to shake his head (dumb fouls, missed assignments,
getting fancy with the ball and turning it over), but he's still a
fairly consistent producer, and a key to the team's future. We've been
warned about Collins' tendency to grate on younger players, and if he
keeps giving ET the stick, it's not hard to see their relationship
souring in the not-too-distant future.
2. Can Jrue continue to get to the line? It was heartening to see our
young point guard actually rack up the FTAs in Saturday's game against
the Cavs—a season-high eight shots at the line, after six the game
before against the Clippers, both well above The Damaja's 2.7/game
average. We need someone besides Sweet Lou to draw fouls on this team,
and Jrue's shown the craftiness around the basket to convert as well, so
it's a trend we'd like to see stay up.
3. Who's playing center? If Hawes is still out—and we're starting to get
legitimately worried about our center's ability to stay healthy this
season—can Nik Vucevic hold down the position in his absence, without
getting out-muscled under the basket and failing to properly guard the
pick and roll? At the very least, we'd like to see him regain the
outside touch he showed earlier in the season—Nik is just 10-24 in his
last four games.
7:00 tip from Time Warner Cable Arena. If we lose this one, there will be no recap, trust.