When 7 o'clock rolls around tonight and you're looking for something to watch on television, the Sixers-Pacers game might take a third place on the pecking order to Philly fans behind the Flyers-Oilers and Villanova-South Florida.
The Indiana Pacers don't exactly bring a huge amount of excitement to basketball fans, but this is a big game for the Sixers. See, the team is embarking on a very important time in their schedule. Just look at the rest of this week. After tonight they'll host the dangerous Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow, then the Boston Celtics on Friday. Immediately after the Celtics game, the team will fly to Milwaukee for Saturday's game. The team needs to grab at least two wins in those four games. If they don't do that tonight, it will be a very difficult task.
After the Milwaukee game, the Sixers will then head to the West Coast for games in Utah, Los Angeles (Clippers), Sacramento and Portland. A very tough road.
The goal for this team is to keep improving, to keep playing the type of basketball that has made them into one of the toughest teams in the East right now. Catching the New York Knicks for the sixth seed is also high on the list of priorities.
It all starts tonight with the Pacers. Here are some keys to the game for the Sixers:
*Be patient: This might be quite different from the fun, wide open game they were able to play in Sunday's win over the Golden State Warriors. This game will be predicated on defense. The Sixers will have to be more patient in this type of game, both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor.
*Keep Darren Collison's penetration limited. When Collison is able to drive the lane, it gives the Pacers many offensive weapons. If he is kept out in front of defenders, Indiana is a mediocre offensive team.
*Get Roy Hibbert away from the basket. If Spencer Hawes can drain some jump shots and pull Hibbert away from the basket a little bit, that will allow Elton Brand to get some more opportunities from his comfort zone - the 10-15 foot area.
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