This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” – Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series, which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games – features tonight’s opponent, the Brooklyn Nets, who are surging of late (winning 4 of their last 6) and simply embarrassed the 76ers up in Brooklyn on Monday night.
After the jump, I’ll look at Fo’ key items for tonight’s game. Additionally, we’ll get a little more insight into this Brooklyn team the Sixers face tonight from our colleague Josh Newman at SNYNets.com, as Josh will answer Fo’ questions on his Nets squad from us here at Philadunkia.
Here are Fo’ key items I will be watching for tonight from the Sixers end…
1) KG vs. Spence: On Monday Hawes tied his season-low with 2 points. More concerning for me was that Hawes attempted a season low 5 field goals. IMO Hawes was clearly intimidated by Garnett as KG has owned Spence over the years. Hawes wanted no part of “The Big Ticket” on Monday night, even though teh future Hall of Famer appears to be a shell of the player he was in Minnesota/Boston. Tonight I am looking for Hawes to man-up and make a positive contribution.
2) The Return of MCW: After missing 7 games from what was apparently the worst skin infection in medical history, MCW returns to face D-Will. Talk about being thrown into the fire. I am sure Carter-Williams will be a little rusty and maybe not at his peak fitness level, but I don’t care. The Sixers need him to come up with a big game tonight if they are going to be competitive vs. the Nets.
3) Wroten to the Bench: I think TWroe should be starting. I am sure Tony thinks he should be starting. So I will be interested to witness how he responds to being sent back to the bench. I hope tonight he shows Brown he deserves to start by playing under control and scoring the ball at the rim. But it’s more likely that he responds by hoisting 3’s and playing no defense.
4) Guarding the 3-point Line: We all know that the Sixers have been absolutely terrible at guarding the trey this season. They hit rock bottom in their last two games vs. Portland and at Brooklyn. Those teams had a combined 42 3-pointers made — an NBA record. Brown & Company had nearly 4 days to work on this issue and I am expecting some sort of improvement in the area of getting opponents off the arc. If there is no improvement in guarding the perimeter tonight, it’s a sign to me that this roster has checked out for the season.
Q&A with Josh Newman at SNYNets.com:
Philadunkia: The Nets recently had a string of four games where they only gave up 93.6 points per night. That’s a significant improvement from the 101.8 points per game average they boast on the season (23rd in the league). So it seemed like they licked some of their defensive ills. Then they lost at home 113-107 at home to Washington on Wednesday night. So was the Wizards game a simple stumble or is defense still a major issue for the Nets?
Josh Newman at SNYNets.com: To me, the defense is still a concern until they can stop teams on a more regular basis. That said, I would not panic too much on giving up 113 to the Wizards. Yes, that is a lot of points, but I can also find good basketball minds that will tell you that John Wall-Bradley Beal is among the best backcourt combos in the NBA. To simplify this answer, yes, the defense is still an issue, but it appears to be coming along .
Philadunkia: Obviously the Sixers are looking to play a much better tonight vs. the Nets and the return of MCW should help some. Is there anything that makes you think the Nets could lose this game?
Josh Newman at SNYNets.com: Of course the old adage, ‘That’s why they play the game’ applies to every game the Sixers play, but the last meeting against the Nets, defense was apparently obvious for the Sixers, who showed little to no desire in playing defense for the full 24 seconds. They gave up 130 points to the Nets on Monday and are yielding 111.2 per game, which makes them a distant last in opponent points per game. The return of Michael Carter-Williams could certainly help the cause some, but when the defense is that bad, there aren’t many games the Sixers will play where you think they can win.
Philadunkia: I have read and heard that Garnett appears to be mailing it in this year. He’s putting up career low numbers acorss the board, including FGAs and FTAs. Any truth to those accusations? Also, what are your thoughts on KG’s play so far in 2013-14?
Josh Newman at SNYNets.com: Has Garnett played well this season? Not really. Would I go so far as to say he is mailing it in? No, I think that’s a bit much. People expected Garnett as well as Pierce to come in and be the players they were even five years ago and that’s just not going to happen. Remember, Garnett is 37 years old, has been in declining health in recent years and has not played even 71 games since the 2007-08 championship season in Boston. He is playing 22 minutes per game, but he’s also staying healthy and for a team that still has plans on a lengthy playoff run (because why not in the Eastern Conference, right?), Garnett staying healthy and able to give the Nets something later on is really the bottom line.
Philadunkia: Jason Kidd has received a great deal of criticism. Is theer anything you like about the job he has done so far this season?
Josh Newman at SNYNets.com: The first thing that comes to mind is that, at the very least, Kidd has the respect of his players, many of whom are long-time veterans like Garnett and Pierce. Respect from the roster is something that neither Avery Johnson, nor P.J. Carlesimo had and ultimately, it helped usher both of those guys out the door. Offensive and defensive schemes are one thing, but no coach is going to be successful in the long or short term without the respect of his players and Kidd has it.
Thanks to Josh for his time and answers.
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