1. Not our best players
Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young, and Lou Williams will not play tonight, making the team approximately 100 times more beatable tonight. Iguodala, Brand, and Young are back in Philly, resting their various injuries before the playoffs start. Lou and Jrue Holiday will swap playing in these last two games. Jrue gets the nod tonight and will have Thursday night’s game off. I also presume that Milwaukee, now out of the playoffs entirely, will give their various injury-ridden players a rest as well. It won’t be Miami-Boston ugly, but it’s also not a game to go out of your way and see either. For instance, I will miss part of the game to attend a graduate school networking event that I may not have attended had the game mattered.
I doubt that Doug will try to tank the game with the players he has, though. This is far from a guaranteed loss, which may be unfortunate. However, since New York plays Charlotte in their finale, I don’t believe we’ll need to lose twice to clinch the 8-seed.
2. How well does Vucevic play?
Doug Collins has gone on the record saying that he does not know who will start at the center spot in the playoffs, but it will not be Nikola Vucevic. I have a horrible feeling that the starter will be Tony Battie. He’ll get a good amount of playing time tonight, with Young and Brand out. He needs to prove that he will be more valuable to the team than Lavoy Allen if he wants to play at all against Chicago or Miami.
3. An Evan Turner takeover?
If there’s anything that these last two games provide, it’s opportunity. Like Vucevic above, Evan Turner wants to prove his worth in these final two games. He’ll presumably start both in place of Iguodala and get a lot of playing time. For those that believe all Evan needs is an opportunity to prove himself, these next two games are one to watch. He’s performed much better as a starter than a reserve, for what it’s worth.
At this point, we need to be concerned with our team, making sure everyone is healthy and playing at their best. Sure, in-game we need to be concerned with Ersan Ilyasova‘s offensive rebounding and Monta Ellis‘ reckless abandon, but what we fans want is for the team to be healthy heading into the weekend, when the games matter again. What those guys do tonight is secondary.