After a grueling stretch of six games in nine days and nine games in 14 days, the 19-15 Brooklyn Nets finally had back-to-back days off for the first time since December 22nd, and celebrate by traveling to Pennsylvania to take on the 15-20 Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers haven’t had the best year — they traded for All-Star Center Andrew Bynum in the offseason, only to watch him re-injure his knee bowling, sport a half-dozen absurdist hairstyles, and not spend a minute in a Sixers uniform.
Joining me to preview this game from the Philadelphia side is Michael Levin, Editor of SB Nation Philadelphia 76ers blog Liberty Ballers. As you’ll be able to tell, Michael is not particularly enthused with this year’s iteration of the 76ers.
Michael Levin on the Philadelphia 76ers
Devin: The Sixers are 3-11 in their last 14 games, but have now had a few days rest after a grueling (I assume) 8-game road trip. Are you confident in their ability to win at home, or is this a freefall?
Michael: No. Wait, I have to keep going? OK. No, I don’t feel confident their ability to do much of anything these days. They’re a mediocre team and they’ll finish around .500, but as they are currently playing, it’s hard to imagine them beating any other team ever. Obviously they will, but the system in place is so painfully poor that I don’t really think being at home will do much. Rest will help, sure, but their offense is predicated upon making long, contested jumpers and their defense simply isn’t very good.
Devin: What is the biggest advantage the Sixers hold over their opponents?
Michael: They’re young, they have outside shooters, and… they have tremendous hairstyles? You’re catching me at a very pessimistic time (more than normal) but really, they’re a tremendously undisciplined team in terms of what it takes to be effective at playing basketball. If/When Bynum gets back, they can play this kind of offense and he’ll cover up some mistakes on defense, but at this point they are floundering with a coach that either doesn’t seem to be getting through to them or has no idea how to score efficiently.
Devin: Would you say the Sixers have a “best” player?
Michael: I mean, it would be Bynum, but since he’s scored as many points as I have with the Sixers, it’s Jrue. And he’s been fantastic. He gets lazy with his shot selection sometimes, but there’s no denying how much he’s improved. I’d be so excited to see him and Evan working with Andrew when the time came, but for now Jrue (and Nick Young’s Nick Youngness) is the only reason to watch the Sixers. Thankfully they have him signed to a very fair contract.