A big night at the Wells Fargo Center for Sixers coach Brett Brown as he goes against his NBA mentor and the team with which he was a part of 5 championships with – Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Sixers are coming of a double-overtime loss in Cleveland on Saturday while the Spurs thumped the New York Knicks yesterday by 31 points.
Here’s a look at some keys to tonight’s matchup for the Sixers.
* Get out to a quick start: This is not something the Sixers have been doing very well, save for the season opener against the Miami Heat. Though no one had to play more than 26 minutes against the Knicks, getting out to a fast start and making the Spurs have to play catch-up on aging legs would be a big plus for the Sixers.
* Play smart, helter-skelter: The Sixers are not a team that can slow things down into a halfcourt game, expecially against a team like the Spurs. They are at their best when they are creating havoc on the defensive end and running with the basketball. That can’t change tonight. And with that style comes the occasional turnover. But the Sixers can’t have bad turnovers (not that there are good ones), meaning unforced errors. The Spurs are masters at capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes.
* Try to stay even on the boards: San Antonio is a decent rebounding team and the Sixers at least need to stay even there. If they want to get out and run as much as they can, they need to do it by cleaning up on the boards. San Antonio only turns the ball over an average of 13.7 times a game, so the Sixers can’t count on getting the ball that way too much.
* Get productive play from the bench: This seems to be a recurring theme, and it is. San Antonio not only has a terrific starting five that includes Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, but a more than capable bench led by Manu Ginobili. There is not a skipped beat when the starters are not on the floor for the Spurs, and the Sixers need to try to match that.
* Play for the coach: Brett Brown would like nothing more than to have a win against his friend and mentor Popovich. While he downplays the importance of the game, there is an extra level of competitive juices flowing inside of him. He has the respect and admiration of his players. They know how much a win would mean to him tonight. When another gear is needed, his players must find it.