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By Spike Eskin and Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If the starting lineup didn’t improve, Doug Collins promised to change it. He did, and the Sixers won two straight games. After a disappointing loss to the Nets on Friday night, Collins has changed the starting lineup again.
Thaddeus Young will get his first start of the year tonight for the Sixers in Orlando. He’ll start at power forward, and be given the responsibility of guarding Ryan Anderson. Elton Brand will start at center, while Spencer Hawes will be the first frontcourt player off the bench. Dwight Howard is out tonight for the Magic, after being diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back. Collins added that it could be a “small ball” type of game. Both this season and last, Sixers lineups featuring Brand at center and Young at power forward have been some of their most effective. Without Brand having to defend Howard, they should be able to sustain the lineup for a longer period of time.
Whatever kind of game it is, if the Sixers want to be in the playoffs, they’d better find a way to win it. Friday’s loss at the Wells Fargo Center dropped the Sixers to eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently in seventh place, just a half game up on the Knicks, and two and a half games up on the Bucks. The Knicks own the tie-breaker with the Sixers, and the tie-breaker with the Bucks will be decided April 25th in Milwaukee when the Sixers play in Milwaukee.
It will be the first of three games in three nights for the Sixers, who play six of their final seven games on the road, the only home game will be Tuesday night against Indiana. Missing the playoffs would be the final signature to making the second half of this Sixers season one of the more notable collapses in Philadelphia sports history.
The Magic will also be missing Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis due to injury.
The game can be heard live on 94WIP at 7pm.
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Daily News Sixers writer Bob Cooney: