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 Indiana Pacers who have lost 4 of 5 and as we all know now boast Evan “The Enigma” Turner and Andrew Bynum as a key members of their rotation.
After the jump, I’ll look a Fo’ key items for tonight’s game. Additionally, we’ll get a little more insight into the Pacers team the Sixers face tonight from our colleague Jared Wade at EightPointsNineSeconds.com as Jared will answer Fo’ questions on the Pacers from us here at Philadunkia.
Here are Fo’ key items I will be watching for tonight…
1) “The Enigma” Returns — I’ll be interested to see what type of reception the sparse crowd at the WFC gives to Turner. I’ll also be keeping an eye on how the Pacers use Turner and whether or not his ball dominating habits fit in with Indiana’s offense.
2) Pacers Defense — Indiana allows a League-low 92 points per game, but they’ve given up an average of 108.7 during their recent slump. Hopefully the 76ers (96.3 points during the 18-game slide) can take advantage of Indy’s recent defensive woes, get to the rim often, keep this game competitive into the 4th Q (but not win) and deliver free Big Macs to the WFC faithful.
3) Henry Sims — Sims posted career highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday night and appears to have carved out a nice role for himself in the Sixers offense. However, against the Pacers he’ll be facing one of the best front courts in the Association. How he deals with the likes of David West, Roy Hibbert and Louis Scola could be a solid indication of whether or not Sims is a “keeper” as coach Brown likes to say.
4) The Home Crowd — The Sixers have dropped a club-record 14 consecutive home games and the faithful down at the WFC have grown weary. I’ve notcied frequent boos coming down from the stands during the 4th Q of recent home games. However, with Turner, Lavoy Allen and possibly Andrew Bynum on the Indiana bench for a Friday night game, I wonder if the home crowd will get fired up and support the Sixers loudly tonight.
For a little more insight into the Pacers team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Jared Wade from EightPointsNineSeconds.com to answer four questions on the Pacers from us here at Philadunkia.
Philadunkia: Obviously we have to start with Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. I know it’s a small sample size, but so far how have the additions of Turner and Allen worked out for the Pacers?
Jared Wade @ EightPointsNineSeconds.com: Evan Turner has been a scoring spark in a few games, but his defense is atrocious and his failure to understand Indiana’s system has led to a lot of breakdowns. I’m still cutting him some slack so far since he’s so new, but I can’t say I have a ton of confidence that it will get that much better. If he can more consistently be a good scorer and playmaker, the bench can probably live with the trash on the other end, but we need to see an uptick in that. As for Allen, no idea. He hasn’t really played and I doubt he will given the log jam of big men on the Pacers’ bench now.
Philadunkia: The Pacers have lost 4 of their last 5 and needed a spark from Andrew Bynum of all people to down the Celtics the other night. What are the big issues of late for Indy and how concerned are you about those problems arising come playoff time?
Jared Wade @ EightPointsNineSeconds.com: They can’t score, but this isn’t anything new. I mean, they could score at least at an average rate in November to January, but since the All-Star break it’s all just been woeful on that end of the court. Paul George and Roy Hibbert, in particular, have been scuffling through months-long slumps, and that’s a big problem. We’ve also seen a big backslide defensively. I mean, they’re still possibly as good or better than any other team, but they were light years ahead early in the year. A lot of that seems to be just focus on a possession-to-possession basis, but the skid also started right as they seemed to be be playing their most entitled ball of the year. Luckily, they should now have been humbled to the point where they no longer believe the can just show up and win, and there is enough of the regular season left to right the ship.
Philadunkia: What was your reaction to Larry Bird’s criticism of the how “committed” the Pacers are to their jobs?
Jared Wade @ EightPointsNineSeconds.com: I mean, that specific comment is hard to read. Not 100% how he said it or what he meant. My take was that he maybe thinks guys are getting caught up in their own individual “rises” and paying more attention to stuff like All-Star appearances, GQ photoshoots and the like. But obviously his “disappointed” comments are on the nose. This team has been just going through the motions for awhile now and it has been shocking to watch compared to what we saw early in the year.
Philadunkia: One of the players I really like for the Sixers in 2014-15 is Lance Stephenson. How strong of an effort do you think the Pacers organization will make to keep him in Indy?
Jared Wade @ EightPointsNineSeconds.com: I think they’ll pay every dollar they can up to the luxury tax threshold. Off the top of my head, I don’t know what that number exactly is, but they can also get creative by doing things like waiving Luis Scola (only partially guaranteed deal next year), stretch-provisioning Ian Mahinmi or obviously making some trade in which they shed salary. With just Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and the tail end of David West’s prime, the Pacers can still contend for a few more years, but keeping Lance is a big factor in whether or not this franchise will be able to win its first NBA ring within the next half decade. He’s a special talent who — with a bit more growth and a proper mind set — can be the second-best player on a title team.
Thanks to Jared for his time and answers.
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