Yesterday at 5:45 p.m., Andre Iguodala filmed a sketch for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." You know, Jimmy Fallon from SNL, who took over for Conan O'Brien, who is taking over for Jay Leno. Anyway, Iguodala was in this sketch, which aired late last night. In case you missed it, fear not, I have your link: Iguodala sketch.
And tonight, in about 20 minutes, the 76ers play the Atlanta Hawks, which (I believe) will be the most important game -- to date -- of this season. The Sixers have lost two in a row. They're 37-35 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference: 1 1/2 games in front of the Detroit Pistons at the seventh spot, 2 1/2 games in front of the Chicago Bulls in the eighth spot, and 1 game behind the Miami Heat -- who keep leaving open the door -- at the fifth spot. The fifth spot is where the Sixers need to be. Depending on how much is at stake the final games of the season (two against the Cavs, one against Boston), the Sixers final schedule could be brutal, or decent if they face a Cleveland team resting its main guys. Games like tonight's against the 43-31 Hawks, whom the Sixers are 1-1 against so far this season, are crucial. A game against the Hawks, at home, at this juncture of the season when the Sixers are caught in a crush of teams and the Hawks are, for the most part, set at the four spot, is a game the Sixers shouldn't lose.
Samuel Dalembert will start at center for the Sixers. It's unclear how effective he will be, but he will at least be out there. He strained his right calf in the first quarter of Sunday night's loss to the Detroit Pistons. Expect Theo Ratliff to play a lot of minutes tonight.
I think the key tonight will be point guard Andre Miller, who is also battling a strained calf injury. Of late, he has not be his usual, efficient self. His shooting percentage has struggled and he has turned over the ball at a higher rate than normal. If he can shoot a high percentage, take care of the basketball, and push the tempo like the Sixers are used to doing, I think the Sixers win this game.
But let's be clear: This game will be about setting a tone for the final 10 of the season.