Tonight at 7 PM, the Nets will face the Philadelphia 76ers for the second straight game in Philadelphia. The last time these two teams met was on Tuesday, and the Sixers blew out the Nets in Newark, 107-88. The Sixers’ bench outplayed the Nets’ bench, especially in the second half, led by Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes, who combined to score 58 points.
Every game now is very important for the 76ers who are clinging on to the 7-seed in the east, while New York sits in 8th place only a game behind. Coming into that Tuesday game against the Nets, Philly had lost 4 games in a row and was really slumping and in danger of not even making the playoffs. After blowing out the Nets, they went north of the border where they blew out the Raptors on Wednesday, before returning home tonight. The Nets may have a slight advantage there, because they have not played since Tuesday, a very long break, especially in this lockout-shortened season.
However, the Nets will again be without Gerald Wallace tonight, who will miss the game with a hamstring injury he suffered last Sunday. He didn’t play in the Tuesday game, and the Nets are really a different team without him. Even though it seems like all of the Nets have been playing with more effort over the last two weeks, they looked like the same old Nets we’ve grown to get very bored of on Tuesday. Wallace really makes a huge impact on the team and you can bet that the Nets will miss him again tonight.
Key matchups (the Sixers have tweaked their starting lineup a good amount since Tuesday, so it is worth updating):
Deron Williams vs. Jrue Holiday. Advantage: Williams
Jrue Holiday is the leading scorer among the starters for the Sixers, but is still only averaging 13 ppg and D-Will is clearly better. Also, Holiday’s 4 apg are very low for a point guard. Deron didn’t have a great game on Tuesday, but this is one of his last road games, so he should take advantage of it. Also, hopefully there will be a hostile crowd tonight, even though the Sixers are probably Philadelphia’s least popular pro sports team. I don’t predict Deron having a great game tonight.
Marshon Brooks vs. Jodie Meeks. Advantage: Neither
Jodie Meeks seems to have replaced Evan Turner in the starting lineup now. On Tuesday, he had a really, really bad game and missed tons of open shots. However, he is a streaky shooter and can catch fire at just about any time. I don’t predict big things from him tonight, but I could definitely be wrong. I’ve kind of gotten bored of Marshon. Excite me! I don’t think either of these guys is going to do anything tonight.
Deshawn Stevenson vs. Andre Iguodala. Advantage: Iguodala
Andre Iguodala is what I call a mini-Lebron. This means that he is a very well-rounded player-getting points, assists, rebounds, and making good defensive plays. However, he is a MINI-Lebron and not a full-size Lebron, meaning he won’t score 22 points in the first quarter like Lebron did earlier in the year against the Nets. Iguodala also was an eastern conference all-star this year, but that is partially because the Sixers were one of the best teams at the all-star break and the NBA wanted to give them some credit by selecting Iguodala to the team. His numbers really don’t back it up and he is only averaging 12 ppg. Iguodala didn’t have a huge game on Tuesday, but he still had a big dunk. Deshawn is not Gerald Wallace and he will not do anything. He’s just Deshawn.
Kris Humphries vs. Elton Brand. Advantage: Humphries
Elton Brand’s glory days are long behind him and he is averaging under 11 ppg this year. He is old, slow, and fat, which is good news for The Hump. On Tuesday, Humphries took way too many shots, and some of those were jump shots, which is never a very good thing. He led the Nets in scoring, but that is not a good formula if you want to win a game. Other Nets are going to need to step up for the Nets to win tonight. I still expect a pretty good game from The Hump.
Shelden Williams vs. Nikola Vucevic. Advantage: Vucevic
Vucevic will be my bold prediction in this game. I’m not sure why, but I think he’s going to put up some huge numbers tonight, maybe a double-double. He’s only averaging 6 points and 5 rebounds per game, but for some reason, I think he will be very good tonight.
BONUS: Gerald Green vs. Lou Williams. Advantage: Williams
We all know what Lou Williams is capable of doing against the Nets. He had a huge game on Tuesday, including a dagger buzzer-beater at the end of the first half and he is really the reason why Philadelphia won the game. Gerald Green had an off night in that game, but I can cut him some slack because he had just had his wisdom teeth removed and I know how that feels. Hopefully tonight he will be back to the Green Machine we have come to know and love. Even if Green does have a good game, Williams does not miss shots against the Nets and he should have another huge game tonight.
As I said before, my bold prediction is that Nikola Vucevic will have a huge game. Lou Williams will obviously help out, along with the rest of the Sixers bench. The reason the Nets have no chance in this game is because Gerald Wallace is out of the lineup. I don’t believe they will win another game until he returns from his injury, so I really hope it’s not a season-ending injury, which is very possible seeing the Nets’ injury history this year. This will be a very similar and boring game like Tuesday, and the Sixers will win, 103-86.