By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If you break the Sixers seven-game home stand into two parts, there’s a pretty clear divide between the first and the second half. If you had to name them, you’d call the first four games the “easy” part and the next three games the “hard” part. The first part would be the one where the Sixers bank some wins, going into a second part that includes games against the Magic, Bulls the Heat. Not so fast.
Wednesday’s game against the Nets proved that the easy games might not always be so easy. Shorthanded in the front court, the Sixers allowed Kris Humphries to grab 19 rebounds, and Deron Williams showed why the Nets traded for him with 34 points, 11 assists, and some tough shots down the stretch, as the Nets left the Wells Fargo Center with a 97-90 win. It was the first time this season the Sixers have lost to a sub .500 team at home.
Tonight’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats is another one that the Sixers need to win, injuries or not. The Bobcats come into the game with the second worst offensive efficiency ranking in the NBA and the second worst defensive efficiency ranking in the league as well. Conversely, by the numbers, the Sixers are still allowing the fewest points per possession of any team in the NBA, while scoring the third most. That’s what the numbers say, but as we learned on Wednesday, the final score isn’t always indicative of what those numbers say.
The Sixers may be without centers Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic again, but the Bobcats are shorthanded as well. Charlotte will be without third-year guard, Episocal Academy graduate Gerald Henderson. Henderson was having the best season of his career, coming in averaging almost 16 points per game, and nearly five rebounds until he went down with a back injury. They’ll also be without starting point guard DJ Augustin, out with chronic pain in his toe.
The injury to Augstin will mean the Sixers and Jrue Holiday will see a healthy dose of first-round draft pick Kemba Walker. Walker’s performance has been a little disappointing this year, but will get a chance to make his mark in Augustin’s absence. He also may present a bit of a problem for Holiday, who generally has some trouble guarding smaller, quicker players.
Though there have been some rumors of the Sixers signing a center in the absence of Hawes and Vucevic, they haven’t made a move yet. That probably means another chance for rookie forward Lavoy Allen to prove he deserves playing time, and more minutes at center for Elton Brand.
**UPDATE**The Sixers have signed center Francisco Elson, but he is unlikely to play according to Tom Moore via Twitter.