Jan 18, 2009, 5:15 PM EDT
Remember when I said that the one upside of Marreese Speights going down with a torn MCL was that at least Brand would now definitely get all the minutes he needed to shake off whatever rust he had left from spending the better part of two seasons on the bench? Whoops. Four days after a performance against the Nets where he actually looked…well, un-terrible (5-11 shooting, six rebounds, couple steals), which is actually the nicest thing we can see about Brand's play of late, Jordan now appears ready nonetheless to send Brand back to the bench.
The $80 million dollar man practiced with the team's second unit recently, with swingman Rodney Carney taking his place in the Sixers' starting five. That would move Thad up to the four with Sammy still at the five, in a sort of retro-2007 starting look. Other prognosticators have Dalembert being replaced in the starting five with Jason Smith, and apparently Jordan has also given Brand himself more of a look as the starting center. Such adjustments would maximize the Sixers' running potential and possibly improve their half-court offense, but would likely lead to them getting killed in the post and on the boards.
In any event, no matter what the lineup, tonight's game at home should be a potentially winnable one against the mediocre Bobcats. But Charlotte has been energized recently by the mid-season acquisition of point-forward Stephen Jackson from Golden State, and a Larry Brown team can never be counted out completely. (Michael Wilbon swears the Bobcats are playoff bound, but then again, he also thinks AI would be a good fit in Cleveland). We're going to learn a lot about this team–who belongs, who has the potential to belong, and who, in the words of Mr. Wilbon, gots to go–in the next week or so. Possibly more than we'd like to.
Tip-off at 7:00 from the Wach. Expect a monster game from Primoz Brezec against his old team–I'm thinking 25 and 10, at least.
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