Put your sunglasses on, guys. This one’s on national TV!
There’s nothing like the New Orleans Hornets to help the Sixers get over back to back blowout losses to the Knicks. Even better for the Sixers is the fact that Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, and number one overall pick Anthony Davis will all be sitting with various injuries. And in what is depressingly quickly becoming the status quo, Andrew Bynum is again out with lingering knee issues.
Still, if the Sixers think they can just show up and win they’re mistaken. Monty Williams is one of the best young coaches in the league, and he seems to have that rare talent of getting players to play hard. Defensively they’re anchored by an excellent defender and true seven-footer in Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu, whose length and athleticism can bother anyone.
That aside, the Sixers have many definite advantages, starting with their guard play. The Hornets have a depth chart of Greivis Vasquez, Xavier Henry, Brian Roberts, and Roger Mason Jr—not exactly an historic background. Guys like Jrue and Evan Turner are clearly better, but also keep an eye out for Maalik Wayns. If he gets into the game, he will undoubtedly be the fastest player on the court.
The Sixers are better than the Hornets. It’ll be a real surprise if they lose this one. The difference between this game being close and blowout, though, will rely on these points:
Start strong. Teams like the Sixers can lose games like this when they allow the other team to set the tone and keep the game competitive. This game is on national TV. The Hornets are shorthanded, but not without their pride. If they smell blood, they’re going to be relentless. The Sixers can save themselves a dogfight by establishing control of this game early.
The bench must expand the lead. Last year, Philly’s bench was great at outscoring the opponent’s subs. That has not been the case this year. A game like tonight’s could be a good opportunity for the bench to find some continuity against a team with depleted depth.
Thaddeus Young must take what’s given to him. The Hornets will probably start Ryan Anderson at the four spot. Anderson is a top flight 3pt shooter, but he’s not exactly a defensive specialist. If they stick Anderson on Thad, he has to take advantage of that matchup. If they stick Aminu on him, then Thad is going to have to keep Aminu’s attention so he can’t roam and get involved with help defense where he can really hurt the Sixers.
Tipoff is at 8:00. This game will be shown on Comcast Sports Net locally and ESPN nationally.
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