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Nocioni’s Revenge: Short-Handed Sixers Face Grizzlies in Memphis

Feb 21, 2012, 5:34 PM EDT

Yes, Andres Nocioni is actually starting for the Sixers tonight, who nonetheless look to rebound from a 2-5 stretch against the Grizzlies in Memphis .

Yes, you heard right—Andres Nocioni, he of the 43 minutes played all
season, will be starting tonight at power forward for the Sixers in
Memphis. Why? Because regular starter Elton Brand is riding the pine
with a right thumb sprain. Why Noc in his stead? Tough one, though my
best guess is that Coach Collins doesn’t anticipate Brand beating out
long, and doesn’t want to mess with his rotations and a successful bench
in the meantime. Noble, though as Liberty Ballers writer Michael Levin
puts it, “I get the idea that the Night Shift is cool, but having them
on the bench only works if your starters are mildly competent.” And
mildly competent is about as generous as you can be for a guy like
Nocioni, who has a 5.1 PER for the season in his limited burn thusfar.

So yeah, two of the starters for the 20-12 Sixers in Memphis tonight
will be Andres Nocioni and Lavoy Allen. Not exactly how Dougie drew it
up at the beginning of the season, but despite being nominal starters,
it seems unlikely that either player will get particularly hefty
minutes, as Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Nikola Vucevic will probably
soak up most of the actual frontcourt PT off the bench. None of it is
particularly ideal, though at the very least, the Grizz frontcourt is a
bit depleted itself, with top two power forwards Zach Randolph and
Darrell Arthur sidelined with long-term injuries.

Speaking of Grizzlies PFs, by the by—tonight will mark our first meeting
with Marreese Speights since he was jettisoned by Rod Thorn and company
for a couple late second-rounders earlier this year. Mo has put up
respectable, if unspectacular numbers as the 18-15 Grizz’ starting four
since being traded, averaging about nine points and seven rebounds on
45% shooting. It’s better than what they were getting from the likes of
Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter, certainly, but not quite enough
to put us in My God What Have We Done mode—though I will say that I’d
rather have Speezy starting at the 4 for us tonight than Nocioni.

8:00 tip from the FedEx Forum. Students of recent Sixers history will no
doubt recall that the Grizz went 2-0 against the Sixers last year,
including rallying back from a 20+-point deficit in the 4th quarter to
upset Philly in Philly last January. Payback time? Hard to be too
optimistic with our roster losses and the way we’ve been playing late,
but it’d certainly add another level of triumph to the win if it was.