Game 23 Preview: Blazers vs. Sixers

A Look at the Sixers

There are basically two things you need to know about the Sixers:

  1.  Allen Iverson is scoring an amazing 31.2 points per game.
  2.  The Sixers are 5-14 anyway.
That's it.  They don't rebound well.  They don't defend particularly well.  Outside of Iverson (who draws 11.6 free throw attempts a game) they don't get to the line much.  They get a few blocks and steals and they have a couple of nice outside shooters, but all of that combined is not enough to hang your jersey on.  It's all AI, all the time this year.

You already know some of the secondary names.  Chris Webber is having, by his standards, an awful year, and may be all but done.  He's averaging a little over 11 points and almost 9 rebounds but he's shooting under 40% and is drawing less than one shooting foul per game.  Andre Iguodala is still a pretty good defender, a fine slasher, and he's developed a nice touch from range.  The problem is he seldom gets enough shot attempts to matter.  Kyle Korver remains one of the best deep shooters in the league and Mo Cheeks seems to have brought out the best in him.  Samuel Delambert can block shots and rebound.  After that it's a pretty motley lot.  Stephen Hunter has put up some numbers on us before.  That's about it.

Things I'd like to see:

  1.  Normally you'd like to say, "Watch Iverson and make somebody else beat you" but you can't, and we won't.  We don't have anybody, or even two bodies, in our backcourt who can slow him down.  He's going to go for big numbers, maybe huge.  But as we said, Iverson has averaged 30+ all year and Philly hasn't won diddly.  The key to the Sixers is not letting there be much of a second scorer.  Both Iguodala and Korver have filled that role and when they do the Sixers usually score big as a team.
  2.  What defense the Sixers have is opportunistic.  That means two things:  don't give the ball away and don't feed them blocked shots.  Smart, efficient ball movement will stymie their athleticism.  Points off turnovers should be an important stat in this game.
  3.  Zach should run Webber ragged.  The old man won't be able to keep up with him and if Webber gets tired or goes out so does half of Philly's rebounding.
  4.  The other half of their rebounding is Samuel Delambert.  Get past him and they're in trouble.  He averages over four fouls a game, so driving deep past their guards and drawing whistles seems to be the way to go.
  5.  They run a pretty bad deficit in both offensive and total rebounds.  Even if they play good defense you can keep in, or win, the game by manning up on the glass and sticking it back in.  On the other end you know a ton of those Iverson heaves are going to miss.  Maybe somebody can leak out now and then?
  6.  The Sixers win in the high 90's and 100's.  They also lose in the high 90's and 100's.  But from 95 down they pretty much only lose...
We're running into a team in considerable disarray here.  They're distracted and are likely to be disorganized and fragile.  If we give them the win they'll take it, but if we play tough and take care of basics they're likely to give up the ship.

This feels like Zach's night.  If the game gets ragged it might be a chance for Outlaw and Dixon to strut their stuff too.  It doesn't really feel like that clean, Martell-esque game.  But it probably won't have to be.  Zach and a friend or two might be enough.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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