*Official starting lineups just released and the Wizards will start Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, Antawn Jamison, Fabricio Oberto, and Brendan Haywood. Caron Butler out with a sore right ankle.
Here at the Verizon Center for tonight's 76ers game against the Washington Wizards. Earlier today, the Washington Wizards longtime owner Abe Pollin died at the age of 85. Pollin suffered from a rare brain disorder. Pollin first purchased the Baltimore Bullets in 1964 and was the NBA's longest-tenured owner. Pollin's death, combined with the return to D.C. of their former coach, Eddie Jordan, makes tonight's game an emotional one for the Wizards and a dangerous one for the Sixers.
Before the game, Jordan had this to say about the death of Pollin and its impact on the game:
"I think if anybody has emotion it’s going to be the other locker room. Our guys are disconnected from Mr. Pollin and all the things he meant to this team and this city. That’s why I’ve got to help my players understand that I’m with them. I can suffer personally inside, but I won’t share that with this team. My team wants to hear direction, they want to get a game plan. I’ve got to be focused enough and professional enough to put aside my feelings and coach a game that we can win."
What will be interesting about tonight, from an on-court perspective, is how the Sixers manage offensively against the Wizards. Yesterday, Sixers forward Thaddeus Young said when they played Washington in the pre-season, Wizards forward Caron Butler was actually telling him where to go on each call. The Wizards know Jordan's offense much better than the Sixers know it. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Sixers leave the offense entirely and just run some standard sets. Not that we'll necessarily be able to tell the difference since I'm not yet able to recognize exactly when the team is in the Princeton, anyway.
The Sixers really should/need to win this game. This is one of three "should win" games out of the next 7. Sixers lose this one, they play the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, and Dallas Mavericks their next four games. I don't see a lot of wins out of those four, although I wouldn't be surprised if the Sixers beat the Hawks at home on Friday. Their athleticism matches the Hawks' quite nicely.
Here are a few keys for tonight's game:
1.) Andre Iguodala's shooting/shot selection. He's shot very poorly the last two games. More importantly, he needs to make sure he's taking good, high-percentage shots. Some of the shots he takes seem like they have a 10% chance of going in.
2.) Offensive rebounding. Sixers have been getting killed on the boards this year. Going into the Memphis game, you had to figure rebounding was going to be the deciding factor. Memphis outrebounded the Sixers 48-28, end of story, really. Sixers have to limit the Wizards to less than 8 offensive boards (heck, even 8 is a lot). Maybe that means Dalembert plays more tonight. But maybe not because Jordan has been saying lately that they really like Elton Brand at the center. So that doesn't bode well for Sammy getting more minutes. Either way, though, Sixers have to at least stay even in rebounding.
3.) 6th man: Not sure whether it will be Rodney Carney or Jason Kapono or maybe Willie Green, but the Sixers need somebody coming off the bench and scoring double digits tonight. My money is on Kapono, who looked good in pre-game shooting on his sprained right ankle. Prediction is Kapono hits three three-pointers tonight.
*Check out the video in the Deep Sixer player below on the right. It's of Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams doing the ladder workout before tonight's game. Foot quickness. Also, if you want to follow on Twitter, click here: Deep Sixer.