Sixers (28-22) at Wizards (11-39)
1. The New, and Slightly Improved, Wizards
Many panned the Wizards’ part in the three way deal which brought them Nene from Denver, shipping out Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Nene’s contract is the main argument against GM Ernie Grunfeld’s move – he has 4 years left on his contract, because the new CBA really fixed things here – and it rightfully should be panned for the money brought back in the trade. However, there’s something to be said about being able to get something for the players they rid themselves of.
McGee and Young were both due to become free agents at the end of the year. Neither was coming back – if they did, John Wall would have killed Grunfeld himself. But more importantly than losing them for nothing, they were a part of the culture that made the team so terrible in the first place. McGee, Young, and Andray Blatche (who’s on a little vacation to “lose weight”) were the rotting core. Now, they have a starting five they can work with, including a solid veteran center that they received for expiring contracts of players they weren’t committed to. They aren’t spending money on anyone else soon either.
With a new coach, a new rotation, and an almost fresh start, we won’t be seeing the Wizards that quit on their coach earlier this year. They aren’t good, but they will at least put up a fight. And considering what the Sixers did to them earlier this year, they may have some revenge on their minds. It may not be an easy victory like the records and previous meetings would suggest. The Wizards are a slightly more respectable 9-24 under Wittman, compared to 2-15 under previous coach Flip Saunders.
2. Whether or not to rest Iguodala
Andre Iguodala has missed a couple of games recently with knee tendinitis – he’ll likely play in one of the two games on this back-to-back. I suggest he sits this one out. No offense to Chris Singleton or Jordan Crawford, but there’s no one that Iguodala would be needed for to shut down tonight. Evan Turner and Jodie Meeks should play satisfactory enough defense to hold down the fort. He should then be free to play against Atlanta on Saturday.
3. Power in the paint
The Wizards frontline isn’t very intimidating. Nene is a good, but not great, defender. He’s not much of a shot blocker, either. There shouldn’t be too much trouble from Trevor Booker, an undersized power forward, either. The question will be whether or not our perimeter players can drive into the paint – John Wall and Chris Singleton have the tools to play great defense, although that hasn’t always happened yet. If they can keep the Sixers perimeter players, most notably Jrue Holiday and Turner, from getting dribble drives into the paint, the Sixers may struggle to score. If they can’t, the Sixers will have a lot of easy, close shots, and this could be a clubbing.