76ers-Spurs Preview: The Quest for a Win Continues


The Philadelphia 76ers will complete their Texas Triangle tour tonight, facing off with the Spurs in San Antonio. The first two legs of the Triangle did not go well for the 76ers: Friday night they lost to the Houston Rockets 88-87 on a last-second James Harden layup, and if you haven’t heard, Thursday night’s contest with the Dallas Mavericks…….let’s just say it didn’t go well. Now the team has to go on the road again to face the defending champs.

The Sixers looked solid defensively against the Rockets on Friday. The 88 points that the Sixers surrendered was their lowest total of the season, and even with the Rockets coming off a game in Mexico City against the Timberwolves, it was inspiring that the team was able to rebound from Thursday’s debacle by holding a now 9-1 team to a close game. The Sixers’ perimeter defense was particularly tight, as the Rockets hit just 7-of-34 three-pointers on the night, and they were able to stay afloat even though they weren’t shooting well by playing decent defense throughout the game. They’ll need to come with that intensity tonight against the Spurs, who are struggling mightily to score efficiently through nine games, ranking 23rd in the league in offensive efficiency.

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  • The ongoing story of Philadelphia’s rotation will be important to watch tonight, as they’ve done some major juggling throughout this season, both through roster moves and shuffling of the starting lineup. Michael Carter-Williams hasn’t started since he returned to the lineup, and Nerlens Noel and K.J. McDaniels have also been coming off the bench for the last few games, even though those three are probably Philly’s best three players.

    It’s not really a surprise that the Philly starting lineup of Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, Luc Mbah a Moute, Brandon Davies, and Henry Sims all finished in the negative for plus/minus against the Rockets, while the entire bench finished in the positive. It appears that the Sixers will likely start the same unit tonight with MCW, Noel, and McDaniels all coming off the bench again. In addition, Chris Johnson played 10 minutes on Friday night and was released over the weekend so that the team could sign Robert Covington, so it’ll be interesting to see if Covington gets his debut tonight, and what his role will be.

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    Meanwhile on the other side, the Spurs have been quite un-Spursian so far this season. Their defensive performance has been solid, but they aren’t scoring efficiently, they’re shooting just 31.7 percent from three as a team, and they’re 15th in assists, something unheard of for a team that moves the ball as well as the Spurs have. They’ve dealt with some injuries, to Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills, and Tiago Splitter, but still, it’s a shock to see them at 5-4 through nine games. They’ll have their full starting lineup at their disposal tonight, as no rest has been announced for guys like Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili, which is a surprise; however, given the team’s early performance, a game where they have their full squad hammer the hapless Sixers sounds ideal, especially with a highly anticipated matchup with the Cavs coming Wednesday.

    The 76ers will probably drop to 0-10 tonight, barring extreme shenanigans like Gregg Popovich coming out and resting his entire starting lineup this afternoon. The Spurs’ fifth ranked defense is probably more than enough to curb the worst shooting team in the league, and the Sixers don’t have a good matchup for Boris Diaw – few teams in the league do – on either end of the floor. If the Sixers are going to win, they need to get productive performances from Carter-Williams and Wroten, and an otherworldly defensive performance similar to Friday night would also help. Their best bet is that the Spurs struggle to shoot again, and they can grind out a victory, but more than likely, this game will be one where the Spurs’ offense regresses to the mean and puts up 100-110 points. The line for this game is Spurs -16, which seems a little high, but a double-digit win for the Spurs seems quite likely.