With 10% of the season in the books, the mantra for Philadelphia so far has been, “It’s just one game.”
Hopefully the Sixers(4-4) have been saying that to themselves in a calm and even tone for the last 48 hours straight in preparation for tonight’s home game against the Utah Jazz(4-5). Here’s the good news, Wednesday’s disheartening loss to Detroit was just one game. The bad news—Utah is better than Detroit in just about every way.
Now, before we continue. Andrew Bynum and his hair will not be playing in tonight’s game. He continues to nurse a bruised right knee. He’s expected to be ready for “basketball activities” on December 10, and will likely take a few more weeks to get into an actual game.
If the Sixers had a tough time with Detroit’s frontcourt, they’re in for a world of hurt tonight. Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson are one of the most potent duos in the league–slightly undersized, but capable of scoring from any part of the floor. They also have worthy reserve bigs in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, two players that undeveloped but dripping with talent.
The Jazz also create havoc with their lengthy wings, Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams. This is a long, athletic teams and if the Sixers don’t protect the ball there are going to be a lot of tipped passes and broken plays.
One slight advantage to the Sixers is that the Jazz have struggled mightily outside of Utah. All of the Jazz’s losses this year occurred in away games. Still, the Sixers shouldn’t expect to win based on jet lag, but here are some things that will be key for them to succeed:
Jrue Holiday has to have a great game. Seems like we say this every game, but the truth is that the Jazz’s weakest position is point guard. Moe Williams can score with anyone, but he’s capable of giving up just as much as he gets on the offensive end. His backups, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson, are similarly disadvantaged.
The bench has to control the pace. The Jazz have some of the most athletic reserves in the league. If they start running this game will be out of hand, fast. The Sixers need to try and neutralize Utah’s athletic advantage by slowing the pace and limiting the amount of possessions.
Start early. If there’s been one glaring note in Philadelphia’s losses, it’s the anemic early scoring. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: The Sixers are not good enough to spot other teams the lead. There have been Sixer squads in the past that have been kind of built around chaos and confusion, but this team is not. The Sixers need to get out early so they can execute a full-game plan instead of having to scramble back after a slow start.
Tipoff is at 7pm. Please do not bring any orphaned birds to the arena. Although Andrew Bynum’s hair looks like a good home, he might cut it in the comings weeks so he can say he lost weight.
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