The Sixers and Bulls will face off at Wells Fargo Center tonight in what should be a sellout, though there were tickets available as late as last night to my knowledge. The keys haven’t changed much since game 2, when the Sixers out-rebounded the Bulls and tallied 25 fast break points. All of those still apply; the Sixers and Bulls haven’t changed from game 2. Here’s 3 more things to watch in game 3:
1. Containing Noah off the dribble
Usually, the phrase “containing __________ off the dribble” is reserved for point guards and the like. Joakim Noah is a center. Thus, the thing to watch seems weird, unless you watched game 2. In the first half, when the Bulls outscored the Sixers, Noah did everything. It’s one thing to leave him open for mid range jumpers. Noah usually won’t kill you through hitting 17-20 footers. But allowing him to put the ball on the floor is a much riskier proposition. From the center position in the NBA, there’s arguably no better passer.
Noah averaged 2.5 assists in just more than 30 minutes per game during the regular season, which is excellent for a big. Moreover, he also only averaged 1.4 turnovers. His assist:turnover ratio is roughly the same as Evan Turner‘s. He can also finish inside as well – note that before and after his barrage of mid range shots, he was able to take his opposition off the dribble and finish off the glass at various angles. He may not be a traditional back-to-the-basket center, but he can certainly do a ton of damage through unconventional means.
2. Can Spencer Hawes do anything right?
I cannot convey in words the level of awfulness that Spencer Hawes achieved in this series. Can he hit open jumpers on a reasonable basis? Can he finish around the rim? Can he not commit awful turnovers or fouls? Can he defend anybody? CAN HE DO ANYTHING RIGHT?
3. Getting Jodie Meeks involved
I’m usually part of Team Evan, but Jodie Meeks has been an important part of this team all year. When he misses shots, he’s near useless. But when he doesn’t, he’s as valuable to the team as anyone just because we need the scoring punch he can provide. The Sixers won’t be scoring 109 points and shooting 59% again, I’m nearly positive of that. Someone’s going to have to hit open shots. Meeks is the best on this team at hitting open threes, and when our offense gets predictably bogged down he’ll need to produce. Obviously, if he’s ineffective it only hurts things, but when he hits shots that removes a huge scoring burden off of incapable scorers.