Crap, the Sixers Really Play Again Tonight?

Crap, the Sixers Really Play Again Tonight?
December 19, 2012, 1:07 pm
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If it's not quite freefall yet, it's getting close. After dropping one
to the Mavs in Dallas last night, the Sixers have lost four straight and
seven of nine, to fall under .500 for the season for the first time
since they were 1-2. As we've repeatedly mentioned, the Sixers' schedule
doesn't get any easier anytime soon, and tonight they play the Houston
Rockets in the second night of a back-to-back. The Rockets are just
12-12 on the season, but that includes two wins over the East-best New
York Knicks, one of which came Monday at MSG. (If OJ Mayo was vexing the
Sixers last night, wait till they get a load of James Harden.)

Obviously
it would help considerably if our leading scorer and distributor Jrue
Holiday was cleared to play tonight. No official word has been given
about Jrue's availability, but with all quotes from player and
management on the matter shading towards the "better safe than sorry"
approach, a betting man would probably wager against it. Needless to
say, the team has struggled in his absence, going 0-3 in his three games
on the bench, though the struggles have actually been more defensive
than offensive, with the team giving up over 104 points a game over the
three-game stretch.

At the very least, Holiday's return would
take some of the burden off Evan Turner, who has started off on fire his
last few games, only to wear down in the second half—last night, he
even air-balled a couple shots late, seemingly gassed. (The offensive
burden as the team's only reliable offensive scoring option with Jrue
sidelined also appears to have taken its toll on ET's defense, though he
also just needs to get better at understanding defensive rotations and
not losing shooters.) Evan has also been playing about 40 minutes a game
the last few after averaging around 25 the first few years of his
career, so maybe conditioning is a factor too. In any event, it's safe
to say that even with his improved play lately—over his last five, 17.8
ppg on 49% shooting and 55% from three, with 7.6 boards and 5.2
assists—this team is not at its best with Turner as their primary/only
offensive threat.

8:00 tip from the Toyota Center. More
important than what happens with the Sixers tonight is what happens with
them tomorrow, when Andrew Bynum goes for an MRI that very well might
determine the course of the remainder of the Sixers' season. Pushing for
the playoffs or tanking for the lottery? Hopefully we'll know the
answer shortly afterwards, even if it's a depressing one.

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