Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia 76ers are on the verge of their first three-game winning streak since November 2nd (!!!). What stands between Philly’s finest and a third victory in five days?
The worst nightmare for a team with shoddy post defense: one DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. Cousins has been a man possessed in his fourth year with the Sacramento Kings, averaging career bests in points (22.7), rebounds (11.3), and assists (3.1).
Not satisfied with their franchise centerpiece finally playing like — well, a franchise centerpiece. The Kings management made a move typical of a team under new ownership; they sought out flashy names on the trade market. While Rudy Gay’s name is recognized around the league, in many cases it’s for all the wrong reasons.
For instance, his banning of stat sheets in the Toronto Raptors locker room came off as especially misguided, as Gay probably had the most to learn from paying attention to the numbers. Gay was shooting just 38.8 percent from the field prior to being traded to the Kings, compounded by his sky-high usage rate.
Since moving to the Kings, Gay has seen his efficiency improve significantly in almost every category. With Gay on board, the Kings have gone 4-6, but that record doesn’t necessarily speak to their level of play. Playing opponents such as the Heat, Spurs, Hawks and Rockets, the Kings have done an admirable job of competing, especially for a team that still has holes to fill.
If the Sixers expect to win in Sacramento, someone will have to slow down the Kings’ one-two punch of Cousins and Gay. The task will likely fall on Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner, who aren’t exactly a pair of defensive wunderkinds. That could be said about pretty much everyone on this Sixers team – the Sixers highest defensive rating is Michael Carter-Williams’ at 105. That’s ugly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boogie Cousins has 50 points and 20 rebounds in this one. Rudy Gay’s tendancy to shoot every time he gets the basketball in his hands might save Turner. However, if Gay is knocking down shots, it will be a long night in Sleep Train Areana.
This should be a fun one, with tons of points and lots of ill-advised defensive gambles. Tentative edge goes to the Kings, who simply have more talent than the Sixers. Tip is at 10.
PG Michael Carter-Williams
SG Hollis Thompson
SF Evan Turner
PF Thaddeus Young
C Spencer Hawes
PG Isaiah Thomas
SG Ben McLemore
SF Rudy Gay
PF Jason Thompson
C DeMarcus Cousins