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Again With the Short People: Hawes and Vuc Still Out vs. Nets

Jan 25, 2012, 5:37 PM EDT

The Philadelphia 76ers take on the New Jersey Nets at home, with both teams missing some crucial pieces.

Healthy by next week. That appears to be—or at least, we hope it is—the
approach the Sixers are taking, with neither of our top two big men
(Spencer Hawes or Nik Vucevic) cleared to play for tonight’s game
against the Nets, nor with either looking likely to come back for any of
the remaining games this week. Fair enough—the next two games are
against the Bobcats and Pistons (combined record: 7-29), and tonight’s
game is against a 5-13 Nets squad still missing touted center Brook
Lopez, and possibly rookie sensation MarShon Brooks as well. It’s more
important to rest our gimpy dudes against this soft run of competition,
to prepare for the brutal two-week stretch we have coming immediately
after.

Still, it never feels good to be going into a game against any
professional basketball team so short-handed. The Nets’ starting
front-line of Kris Humphries and Mehmet Okur aren’t the most threatening
in the league, exactly, but Humph can certainly crash the boards, and
Okur has size that must be contended with, creating certain matchup
problems for the Sixers if we have to rely on Thaddeus Young and Elton
Brand to play the middle. Meanwhile, the best player on the court for
most of the game will belong to the New Jersey—star point guard Deron
Williams, whose penetration will cause plenty of problems of its own if
the Sixers can’t protect the paint.

Expect to see a lot of Tony Battie, and for the second time this season,
a healthy dose of rookie big Lavoy Allen. Sixers fans would of course
be well-advised to not expect another 5-5, McDonalds-earning performance
out of Lavoy this time out, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can
prove to be a contributor to the team tonight, either by excelling in
the pick-and-pop as he did Wednesday, or just by hitting the boards and
playing good help defense on Deron and Jordan Farmar and company. Doing
so would go a short way towards allaying Sixer fan fears about the
team’s depth up front, though as Michael Levin suggested in our recent
discussion, it’s hard to see the team going too long without making a
move for a big man, and indeed have even brought one-time Sixer (for
about five minutes) Francisco Elson in for a workout, to that end.

7:00 tip from the WFC. “We’re trying to win every game and take
advantage of everything and take
advantage of that home court,” Evan Turner said of the team’s stellar
play against sub-par competition in Philly this year. Keep up with that
trying, guys—though don’t think it’s gonna be this easy for too much
longer.