The 11-9 Philadelphia 76ers have a big week ahead with three conference games and will be very telling on how they compare to the rest of the Eastern Conference. Tonight at 7 the Sixers start the week against the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are struggling at 7-15 this year, but still have some talent as they beat the Sixers 94-76 earlier in the season. The Sixers will need to continue to ride the scorching hot Evan Turner and will also need Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young to score to beat Detroit. I say the Sixers win tonight at home 96-92. Expect a big game from Evan Turner, but if the Sixers want a win tonight, it will come on the big men being able to contain the Pistons’ Greg Monroe.
On Wednesday night, the Sixers welcome Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are a lot better than the Pistons, and it will take a similar effort from our big men to contain Noah and veteran power forward Carlos Boozer, who seems to struggle vs Philadelphia in his career, shooting under 36% from the floor. Luol Deng has become the primary scoring option for the Bulls with superstar PG Derrick Rose out due to injury and the Sixers will also need a big effort defensively from Thad Young against the “big” small forward Deng. Unfortunately, I cannot see the Sixers being able to contain the Bulls size, and the Bulls could prosper, 104-89.
Friday night the Sixers travel to Indiana to play one of the best defensive teams in the NBA in the Pacers. The Pacers, like the Bulls have good scoring big men, especially David West, who is shooting 58% from the floor in December. West is a power forward, but does not have the size as some of the other big men in the NBA. But West can stroke the 18 foot jumper, and unless the Sixers stop him, he could easily put up 20 points. To beat the Pacers, the Sixers will have to rely on the three pointer, and will need to make at least 40% of these shots in order to neutralize the Pacers low post defense. Look for Coach Doug Collins to get Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright involved more in the game plan to try to beat the Pacers. I think the Sixers win 92-86 and Jason Richardson scores 20 to lead the charge.
If the Sixers can win 2 of 3 this week heading into the weekend, that would be a successful week. This Sunday the Los Angeles Lakers and their worldwide fan base travel to Philadelphia to continue the heated rivalry. The Sixers will still come to play against the Lakers, especially since LA has been struggling of late. The Lakers are still searching for an identity, but they still have Kobe Bryant. Kobe, who was born and raised in the Philadelphia area, is averaging 29 points per game this year and will plan to put up even more this Sunday. Evan Turner has the daunting task of guarding one of the great scorers in NBA history, but the argument could be made that ET has a good chance to contain Kobe, as Turner is also a tall guard who can move with the best. I expect this to be a high scoring game and there is one x-factor. If the Sixers hold Dwight Howard to less than 20 points, they win 104-100. If not, it could be a long afternoon in Philadelphia. 110-98 Lakers.
All games can be seen on Comcast Sportsnet and heard on 97.5 The Fanatic.Tags: Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, NBA, Philadlephia 76ers, Thaddeus Young