This Friday 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 upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent the Sacramento Kings who are the Sixers foes for game four of the current five game West Coast swing.
Hopefully the energy, scoring and defense that characterized the second half of the Clippers game is a sign of things to come for the Sixers and the recent slump is now officially behind us. If that is the case, then this meeting with the last place Kings who will be without star guard Tyreke Evans again tonight, should end up in the win column for the 7-6.
Sacto has lost 7 of their last 8, gives up nearly 105 ppg. (7thworst in the League) and the Sixers have won six straight vs. the Kings. The Kings also have to be a little distracted with all this talk of moving to Anaheim swirling around. Plus, and if we’re all being honest here, without Philly native Evans, there is no one of this roster who scares you. Yes whe know they have a bevy of 7-footers on their roster — DeMarcus Cousins, Donte Green, Jason Thompson and our old friend Sammy Dalembert – and skilled 7-footers usually give the Sixers trouble. But none of those bigs is skilled enough to beat the Sixers by themselves, so we’re not as worried about the interior size mismatch tonight as we normally would be in our previews.
We know that Marcus Thornton is on fire of late – 42 points on Monday vs. GSW and he is averaging 24.0 ppg. in his last nine. But if Thornton starts to heat up, look for Iguodala to throw the lockdown on him and end that threat. We’re also aware that “Big Sammy” (who is having a dreadful season overall) has suddenly located his game (19 & 11 per in his last 3). Sammy hit for a career-high 27 points and snagged 16 boards vs. the GSW, then he hit for 16 and 10 boards Wednesday night. But we’ve all seen these flashes of brilliance from Sammy before and they don’t last. Additionally, Sammy will be facing the 76ers for the first time since being traded to Sacto last in July, so he’ll be a mess mentally tonight and may try to defect to the Sixers locker room at halftime.
This one should be a stone cold lock for the Sixers tonight, but to guarantee they grab a W, we’ll look to Jodie Meeks (22 points Wednesday) to stay hot and for Jrue Holiday to have another big game. Meeks has popped 9 of 16 from deep in his last two games and is averaging 14.9 per game over his last 10. We also like Jrue’s chance of having a second big night in a row (20, 9 & 4 vs. LAC) as we don’t think Thornton or Beno Urdih can guard him. Throw in the usual double-double from Brand, as well as Louis and Thad nightly points off the bench and even if the Sixers’ stingy defense goes MIA, they still should have no problem out scoring the Kings.
However, we wouldn’t mind if Iguodala got back on track after his 4-13 night (9 points) vs. the LAC on Wendesday and turned this thing into a blowout. We know his knee is probably not helping things right now, but he needs to rediscover his scoring touch (AI9 has hit for 13 or less in 3 of the last 4) if we are going to grab a win in Portland and have a successful West Coast trip. So, he might as well get going tonight against the defensively challenged Kings.
For a little more insight into the Kings team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Zach Harper from cowbellkingdom.com to answer two questions on the Kings from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on the Sacto squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : After appearing to struggle all season (at least from our viewpoint), Sam Dalembert has suddenly gotten hot. Now we must warn you that we have seen these surges before and they never lead to any sustained play from “Big Sam”, but what has been different about Sammy over this last stretch of solid play?
Zach Harper @ cowbellkingdom.com : As you know with Sam, he thinks higher of himself on offense than anybody else ever would. For some reason, he thinks he’s a big option in the post right now, and even scarier so does Paul Westphal. I guess they’re going to ride the hot/extremely fortunate hand right now. There is nothing he is doing differently than before. The prayers are simply being answered when he has his back to the basket. It isn’t the cutting to the hoop Dalembert that you’d want to celebrate. It’s the “oh my god why is he taking that… Well hopefully he doesn’t take that again” Dalembert that is getting lucky.
Philadunkia : We see that Philly’s own, Tyreke Evans has been cleared to practice again. Plantar Fasciitis is a tricky injury, so do you think the Kings should bring him back this year or let him sit and make sure he is 100% healthy for the 2011-12 season?
Zach Harper @ cowbellkingdom.com : They need to rest Tyreke. Maybe because they want him to play more now to up value and interest in next season’s ticket sales (wherever they play) he’s coming back. I know he’s a hard guy to keep off the court and almost all of the decisions to have him play through the various injuries throughout the season have been made by him above the training staff. At this point, I’d shut him down for the rest of the season and let DeMarcus get his run as the top guy.
Two Points of Analysis from Zach Harper @ cowbellkingdom.com :