Knees. Knees. Knees. That's what we're talking about in Philly. Truth is, the Sixers are a decent team without Bynum. 7-8 seed in the East. That's not as worthless as it used to be because at least this year, we're led by Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young, rather than the old guard of Elton Brand (HEY ELTON!), Andre Iguodala, and Lou Williams.This season should be about figuring out if those guys can be the core of a team that has a healthy Bynum at the 5. Without Drew, things get more complicated, but that's still the idea. The Sixers have an interesting offense in that nothing really happens, but when they move the ball well, they have the shooters to knock down shots. Evan and Jrue have been elite in isolation and J-Rich has been a pleasant surprise, but the complete dearth of talent at the 4-5 spot outside of Thad is responsible for their position near the bottom of the league's offenses.The Mavs should have no trouble exploiting that weakness tonight. But if the Sixers are shooting well, they have a slight advantage at the guard and wing spots, barring an insane night from O.J. Mayo. I assume it'll be Evan on Collison and Jrue on Mayo -- Collins likes Evan on the ball defensively -- and that could make for couple mismatches. Seems like it'll be a tight game. Outside shooting will determine the winner. Hopefully we get to see some Swag on our end.
The Mavericks have resumed their position as the head-shakingist team in the West. They're a .500 team without Dirk Nowitzki, which is about where we all expected them to be, but secretly hoped they wouldn't be. They have played in games without Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman and Rodrigue Beaubois and done fine, and then they've had a healthy roster sans Dirk and completely fallen apart.
They hung around with the team sporting the best record in the NBA (Knicks) and snatched a win, and then hosted a Lakers team who had been winless on the road and winless on second nights of back-to-backs and couldn't lose worse if they'd tried. All non-Mavs faithful will look at this roster and look at where the team is and say "hey, it'll all be ok when Dirk comes back" (sound familiar, Philly fans?) but the issue isn't just Dirk's physical absence from the court.
It's that we have a team with the potential to be really scary good, as we've seen, that can't find a modicum of consistency from one night to the next. O.J. Mayo has been dazzling us with his outside shooting, but we all know that's not a dependable winning method. Just ask Jason Terry. Chris Kaman started the season almost perfect, and then started taking weird jumpshots and losing rebounds left and right. Darren Collison... he's still trying to figure this whole thing out and he has moments of brilliance followed by head-scratching ineptitude. Both these teams seem to be suffering from rebounding issues so it should be fun to watch which squad can figure it out tonight. I think they'll match up well enough to make for an entertaining game. The Mavericks haven't played since their disastrous loss Saturday, so hopefully they'll have fresh legs and focus.