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Philadelphia 76ers @ Houston Rockets 3/27/14 feat. Eric Goldwein of Hoop76

Teams: Philadelphia 76ers (15-56) @ Houston Rockets (48-22)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Toyota Center
Television: CSN Houston

Notes:

  • The Rockets lost their first matchup with the 76ers, as Tony Wroten had a triple-double (18 pnt, 10 reb, 11 ast) and one-time Rocket James Anderson had career-high 36 points.
  • James Harden missed that game with a bruised foot, but Jeremy Lin filled in admirably with 34 points on 10-19 shooting (9-15 from 3!).  He also had 11 assists and 5 rebounds, although he did commit 8 turnovers.
  • The previous matchup with the 76ers was also the last straw for Omer Asik after moving out of the starting lineup.  He refused to dress-out for the Rockets’ next two games after playing only 4 minutes in the loss to Philadelphia.
  • Since December, James Harden’s 3pt% has risen from 30% to 34% in January, 42% in February and now 46% in March.
  • A loss for Philadelphia tonight would tie them with the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers (26 straight) for the longest losing streak in NBA history.

Injuries:

Dwight Howard knocked knees with Terrence Jones in practice on Wednesday, and sat out the rest of practice as a precaution.  It was not serious and he will be in the lineup tonight.  

Francisco Garcia is still being listed as “day-to-day” due to personal reasons.  He has missed two straight games and his availability for tonight’s game is unknown.

As for Philadelphia, other than Nerlens Noel’s continued absence, no other Sixer is listed on the injury report. 

Insider’s View – Q&A with Eric Goldwein of Hoop76 .com.   You can see the other half of the conversation here.

Follow Eric on Twitter @ericgoldwein of @hoop_76.

MF – When discussing the issue of tanking in the NBA, Commissioner Adam Silver recently said, “The coaches and players, or some subset of that group, trying to lose, I don’t think that’s going on anywhere in the NBA”.  But doesn’t that let NBA front offices off the hook?  I doubt H.C. Brett Brown or Michael Carter-Williams are trying to lose, but can you really say Sam Hinkie is trying to win games at this point?

EG – We really can’t. Just check out their roster and see who is getting significant minutes; Tony Wroten, Byron Mullens, Elliot Williams, etc.. Management has done everything it can — short of shutting down Thaddeus Young — to ensure this team doesn’t win games. This isn’t to say that losing is their only, or even the primary goal of this season. Even in this extended streak, they’ve managed to find and develop some of their younger players, like Henry Sims (seriously, he’s awesome), and as bad as they’ve looked some nights, they’ve progressed (albeit slowly) since they gutted the roster and traded Spencer Hawes/Evan Turner at the deadline.

Rookies always say the hardest adjustment to the NBA is the speed of the game, so it seems like sitting Noel Nerlens out for 18 months without live-game action would hamper his development.  I realize the 76ers are counting lotto balls at this point and not wins, but wouldn’t letting Noel get out and run around for a few minutes a game help him heading into the offseason?  Are the Sixers really that worried about wins, or is Noel just not ready for action?

We might be overestimating the impact that a few minutes of NBA action could have on a young player like Noel. Is experience a good thing? Sure, but who is to say that these late-regular season reps would have any real effect on his development?

I also think we might be overestimating the impact that a few minutes of Nerlens Noel could have on late-regular season NBA action. I’m fully on the Noel bandwagon; I think his worst case scenario is a plus-defensive big man (Larry Sanders), and his ceiling is Kevin Garnett-lite. That said, it’s hard for any rookie to come in and make an immediate impact. Let alone a raw-but-talented 19 year old coming off an ACL injury.

Philadelphia is just one loss away from tying the 2010-11 Cleavland Cavaliers for the longest losing streak in the history of the NBA.  Do you see them beating the Rockets or Pistons and saving the fine people of Philadelphia from the indignity of holding such an abhorred title?  Or would fans just prefer to  lose every game at this point and continue chasing Wiggins/Embiid/Parker?

Saturday’s game against the Pistons has all the makings of a victory. It’s home, the Pistons are terrible, and assuming the Sixers lose tonight, it’ll be a chance to avoid breaking the 26-game record. They’ll certainly get up for it, as will the 4,000 fans in attendance. Believe it or not, Philly has actually been playing some half-respectable basketball over the last few games, hanging around with the Pacers twice and losing close games to the Bulls (91-81) and Knicks (93-92). As much as we Sixers fans love lottery balls, it’d be nice to see this team come away with one final win.

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