The front end of the 76ers schedule this season is crushed with away games. And the first blast comes this week as the team starts a four-game road trip tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The trip continues at the Dallas Mavericks, at the San Antonio Spurs, at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Sunday, the Sixers looked effective in a win over the New York Knicks. In that game, the Sixers were without swingman Andre Iguodala, who will also miss tonight's game with tendinitis in his right Achilles. With Iguodala out, the Sixers started a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andres Nocioni, Elton Brand, and Spencer Hawes. Also, Iguodala's spot on the active roster was taken by Jodie Meeks, who played 16 effective minutes. In addition to Iguodala's absence, the Sixers will likely be without Jason Kapono (personal reasons). Without those guys, both Meeks and rookie Craig Brackins will dress for tonight's game.
Barring a setback, Iguodala will be back in the lineup on Friday night against the Mavericks.
A win against the Knicks, without Iguodala, is little proof as to this team's abilities without its swingman. The Knicks peppered that game with poor possessions, something the Sixers likely won't see tonight against Kevin Durant and the Thunder. There's been a lot of talk about including Iguodala in a trade, but as of right now, it seems the Sixers are not trying to trade Iguodala. There will need to be a change in upper management's thinking before Iguodala gets peddled because right now -- according to a source close to Iguodala -- he has been repeatedly assured that the team is not trying to trade him and does not want to trade him. Obviously, there is a difference between the Sixers trying to trade Iguodala, and a team approaching the Sixers with a great deal. There is no guard against the latter.
For now, Sixers fans will need to concentrate on how to get the most out of these main roster pieces.
Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3): No Iguodala, no Kapono means probably the same starting lineup as we saw against the Knicks. We'll need to keep an eye on how the offense performs in its second game without Iguodala. Brand excelled as the team's go-to option in the first half against New York, but the level of competition is much higher. Backcourt of Holiday and Turner needs as much time as possible together. Even when Iguodala returns against Dallas, that pair needs as much time as Doug Collins can find. Maybe even trying out a starting lineup of Holiday/Turner/Iguodala/Brand/Hawes (and maybe Battie can sneak in there sometime soon ...).
Games against the Dallas Mavericks (4-2), San Antonio Spurs (5-1), and Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) make this quite a difficult road trip for the Sixers (2-5), but if Sunday's improved play is any indication, perhaps the team has found a formula for putting together victories here and there.
More coming after tonight's game ...
Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.