Is it just me or are the Sixers on a winning streak?
After a 1-2 start to the season, the Sixers head home with a three game winning streak to take on the Milwaukee Bucks(3-2). Granted, the only team from that streak that would be considered a playoff lock would be Boston, but still, you gotta start somewhere, right?
The Bucks present an interesting challenge for the Sixers. While they are certainly not the caliber of a Knicks, Nuggets, or Celtics, the Bucks do present a challenge that the Sixers have struggled with so far in the early part of this season—scoring guards. So far, when the Sixers have won this season, their backcourt has significantly outscored the opposing teams’. This fact makes sense. Without Andrew Bynum, the Sixers will struggle to find matchup advantages with other teams’ frontcourts.
Speaking of which, Andrew Bynum is not expected to play. He remains benched with a bruised knee; neither doctor nor psychic can predict when he will be ready to play pro ball again. He is joined, again, by Kwame Brown(calf) and Jason Richardson, who hurt his ankle in a game against the Knicks.
Part of the reason the Sixers’ wins have hinged on the backcourt has been the play of Evan Turner. In his first year as a starter, Evan Turner’s offense has been inconsistent. He still rebounds like the player who led all guards in the NBA in rebounds per game, but the Sixers will never be consistent winners unless they can count on him to score at a decent clip. Luckily, he seems to be responding well to the increased responsibility as it looks like he’s gaining rhythm each game. The Bucks have a dynamic but undersized backcourt, so if the Sixers plan on winning this game they’ll have to take advantage of that.
On the opposing side, the Bucks made a huge gamble last season by trading their quality center Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors for guard Monta Ellis. Ellis has always been highly regarded for his scoring abilities, but he’s seen as a defensive liability and there are questions as to whether or not he can be a piece of a winning team. Part of the reason the Bucks were comfortable with getting rid of Bogut has been the ascension of Ersan Ilyasova, who averaged 13 points and nearly nine rebounds last season.
The Sixers should be favored to win, but here are three pointers on how to win:
Keep an eye on Drew Gooden. Drew Gooden is probably one of the most infuriating players in the league. If he’s on your team, he’s a guy with a top 5 pedigree who never seemed to amount to anything. If he’s not on your team, he’s the goofball who, after averaging 4 points a game for the season, notches a 25 point triple double. There’s no point in prepping for him, and yet he can punish your team. I’m fine with the Sixers losing, but please, don’t let it be because Drew Gooden killed us.
Limit transition threes. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are both electric players in transition, and both take advantage of pulling up for completely uncontested three pointers mid-break. For most teams, limiting a fast break to three pointers would be a good thing, but the Bucks have the ability to punish the Sixers. Even a few transition threes could make this a tough game for Philadelphia.
Force the frontcourt to foul. Ersan Ilyasova is a tough, physical defender and Samuel Dalembert is a great weak side shotblocker. But they don’t really have any depth behind them. If the Sixers can get one of those players in foul trouble, they should be able to get good production out of either Thaddeus Young or Spencer Hawes.
Tipoff is at 7pm at the Wells Fargo Center. If the Sixers win they’ll be a half game up over Chicago, good for third place in the East.
This post was provided by 76ers101 writer David Donnella, who is on a road trip back east!
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