1. Containing Deron Williams
Deron Williams is undoubtedly New Jersey’s best player, but so far this year he’s been hot and cold. When he plays well, his team has a chance to win. When he doesn’t? They’re toast. So keeping Williams from doing a ton of damage should and will be priority number one for the Sixers. Jrue Holiday doesn’t give up a quickness advantage on Williams and should be okay defending him on his own. And the Sixers will give some help: other than Anthony Morrow and maybe Shawne Williams, the Nets have no one who can really burn them.
2. People Who Play
The short-term outs: MarShon Brooks for the Nets, Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic for the Nets
Long-term: Brook Lopez and Damion James for the Nets, no one for Sixers
Hawes and Vucevic being out hurts less against the Nets than against most teams. For one, the Nets aren’t that good. But maybe more importantly, the Sixers don’t really need a pure big: New Jersey’s centers are Mehmet Okur and Johan Petro, who have been bad and agonizingly terrible this season and forever, respectively. And MarShon Brooks, while a nice player, would have met the Andre Iguodala buzzsaw. The Sixers will benefit more from New Jersey’s injuries than vice versa.
3. A Big Night From The Bench (Specifically Thaddeus Young)
The Sixers should be able to play Thaddeus Young in long stretches tonight, as the Nets boast only one strong rebounder (the noticeable Kris Humphries: he’s the one being booed and heckled) and no major post threats. Given this, the conditions are ripe for a big game from Thaddeus. I don’t see anyone who can stop him.
And if the game turns out as I expect, a lot of time will be given to bench players. Evan Turner and Lou Williams should have golden opportunities to succeed as well. I might as well throw Lavoy Allen in there, as he’s sure to play too.