Much (all?) of the sports talk around town today centered on the Phillies opening their season against the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park. Quietly tonight, across the street at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the visiting New Jersey Nets.
Quiet is OK with head coach Doug Collins. You get the feeling he'd much rather have his team sneak into the playoffs - which they will probably do as either the sixth or seventh seed - and perhaps make some noise in the opening round which will probably pit them against either the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat.
But first, they must contend with the Nets, whom they have beaten all three times they've faced this season. The Nets, of course, are a different looking team than what the Sixers are used to with the addition of All-Star guard Deron Williams. The Nets have lost eight of their last nine, with Williams missing six games during that stretch with an injured wrist. He will be in the lineup tonight.
Here's a look at some keys for the Sixers tonight:
*Don't let the Nets get comfortable. Like the Sacramento Kings, who came in and took a game last Sunday, the Nets aren't really playing for anything. Sometimes, that's an easier way for a team to play, with no pressure. The Sixers will have to provide the pressure.
*Get Jrue Holiday going. The starting point guard posted his only triple-double against the Nets earlier this season and is averaging 16.7 points and 9.7 assists in the three wins against New Jersey this season. He has also been hot of late, averaging 21.3 points and 8.3 points his last three games.
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