Blast from the Past as Sixers Win

John Wall looks like the real deal, but a familiar balanced attack by the Sixers was enough to secure a Philadelphia victory.

Things started out in a familiar fashion for the Sixers Friday night.  John Wall showed off an improving jumper to go along with his incredible quickness getting to the rim, on his way to 13 first-quarter points.  Offensively, Evan Turner had a shot hit the side of the backboard and a dunk attempt blocked by Wizards guard Garrett Temple.  Dorell Wright even saw the ball slip out of his hands and fall behind him out of bounds on a three point shot attempt.  The Sixers were down 31-24 after 12 minutes and it looked as though they were on their way to another disinterested blowout loss.

Then, a surprising thing happened and the Sixers began playing like the team that made the playoffs last season.  The team began to show some energy defensively, collecting 6 steals and forcing 9 Washington turnovers by halftime.  Those live ball turnovers allowed Philadelphia to get some easy buckets in transition, getting more players involved offensively, and leading to the type of scoring balance that has been a staple of the Sixers’ success in recent years.  That floor balance combined with some incredibly cold outside shooting by the Wizards (just 1-13 from three for the game), enabled the Sixers to break open the game in the third quarter and coast to a 97-86 victory.

Five Sixers players scored 13 points or more, led by Jrue Holiday’s 22 points and 7 assists.  Thad Young had his second straight excellent outing, recording 18 points, 13 rebounds, and leading the defensive charge with 4 steals.  The lone disappointing performance was Evan Turner’s atrocious 0-11 shooting from the field for 0 points, although he did tie for a game-high 7 assists.  For Washington, Wall was the only player to score over 10 points, finishing with 24 points and 7 assists.

The game was an encouraging sign that the Sixers haven’t completely given up on the season.  Although the Wizards were missing Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza to minor injuries, they’ve played better ball over the second half of the year.  Philadelphia’s next game is the home finale against Cleveland; the Philly faithful will hope to see a similar effort from the hometown team.

Sixers (31-47) @ Wizards (29-50) Game Preview (4/12/13)

John Wall and Nick Young will reunite Friday night to remember the glory days.

Two lottery teams meet Friday night trending in opposite directions.  The Sixers franchise features management rumored to be hoping their icon coach quits after this year, an all-star who has played like anything but one 80% of the time during the second half of the season, and a team that has clearly given up over the last week.  On the other hand, the future looks bright for the Wizards as the team is actually 24-22 when their star point guard, John Wall, is in the lineup.  If not for his knee injury suffered over the summer, the Wizards would likely be a playoff team.  Of course, the Sixers could say the same thing regarding Bynum, but Wall is actually part of the Wizards’ foundation going forward.

After an adjustment period coming back from the injury, Wall has been brilliant this season, averaging 22.9 points on 48.1% shooting, 5.0 rebounds, and 7.8 assists over 23 games in March and April.  Only LeBron James and Russell Westbrook have averaged at least 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists over the course of this season, elite company for John Wall to occupy.  Wall has come out and stated his belief that he deserves a max contract and he’s certainly playing like it.

Unfortunately for the Wizards and fans of watching talented young players, Bradley Beal is out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his right fibula.  He and Wall had really started to develop a good relationship out on the court and it will be exciting to watch that backcourt grow together going forward.  Still, the Wizards have other weapons the Sixers will need to account for if they care about winning basketball games anymore.  Martell Webster has done a great job providing spacing for this Wizards team, shooting 42.2% from three.  In the front court, Brazilian veteran Nene is the hub of the offense when Wall isn’t running the show.  Although Nene’s averages of 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists don’t jump off the page, he provides a needed calming presence in the half court offense and he and Emaka Okafor do a good job orchestrating the Wizards defense on the back line.

Keys to the Game:

  • Win the transition game.  Wall loves to use his blazing speed in the open court to get the bulk of his points, as his outside shot is still a work in progress at this point of his career.  On the other side of the ball, the Wizards sport the 8th-best defense in the league and it would behoove the Sixers to get some easy buckets on the fast break.
  • Pack the paint on defense.  Wall’s offensive game springs from his ability blow past his defender and get into the paint.  Hopefully, Jrue Holiday rises to the challenge of playing against a rising young star, but if not, his teammates will have to help off their men to prevent Wall from getting to the rim.  If he kicks it outside and guys like Cartier Martin or A.J. Price beat them, so be it.

Prediction:

The Wizards are a solid 22-18 at home this season, made even better with Wall’s inclusion in the lineup.  The Sixers’ road woes have been well-documented and given their recent play, there’s no reason to believe that trend reverses itself.  John Wall goes off for over 30 points against a disinterested Sixers defense as the Wizards win.

Sixers Go Through the Motions in Loss to Hawks

Torero Clip Art

The Sixers played matador defense in allowing 124 points, the Hawks’ highest total in regulation this season.

The Sixers must have really been dreaming the impossible dream because after being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, fans have seen a different team out on the court.  During the past two games against Brooklyn and now, Atlanta, Philadelphia has put forth some of the least-enthused professional basketball performances you’ll ever come across.  For the second straight game, the majority of the opponent’s starters were out of the game after three quarters, as Atlanta breezed to a 124-101 victory.  Although the Sixers weren’t pummeled on the boards again last night, there was visible lack of defensive intensity that allowed the Hawks to get wherever they wanted to on the floor.  Atlanta scored at least 29 points in every quarter as their 124 points were their most in a non-overtime game this season.

The assists told the story as the Hawks held a 34-21 edge, working the ball around against a Sixers defense disinterested in making the proper rotations.  Josh Smith set the tone early with 11 points and 6 boards in the first quarter, on his way to 28 and 11 in just 29 minutes of action.  Once again this season, Jeff Teague greatly outplayed Sixers all-star Jrue Holiday, recording a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists in 31 minutes.  Even a pair of rookies off the bench were able to score at will, as John Jenkins and Mike Scott tallied 21 and 17 points, respectively.

The lone bright spot for the Sixers was a rejuvenated Thad Young, who bounced back from a poor performance in Brooklyn to score 28 points on 14-20 shooting.  His usual energy stood in stark contrast to his teammates displayed even less fight than usual.  Nick Young also shot the ball well, draining 3 of 5 threes on his way to 19 points off the bench, though most of his points came when the game was already decided.  Holiday shot just 4-14, including going 1 for his first 10, for 12 points, and only recorded a single assist compared to five turnovers.  90% of the team looked like it wanted nothing more than the season to be over with, and if this is the level of effort in store going forward, fans feel the same way.

Sixers vs. Hawks Game Preview (4/10/13)

Arnett Moultrie and other young bench players should see more run during the final games of the season.

Following one of their more disinterested efforts of the season, the Sixers head back home to take on Atlanta Wednesday night.  Currently sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks have lost three straight including a blowout defeat to the Sixers in Atlanta less than a week ago.  The recent stretch has washed away any chance of 4th place for Atlana, as they now sit 4.5 games back of Brooklyn.  However, it may be in the Hawks’ best interest to avoid the 4/5 match-up and a potential second round series with Miami.  As a result, Hawks’ coach Larry Drew pulled a classic Gregg Popovich move in the team’s loss to the Spurs Saturday, resting Al Horford, Josh Smith, Kyle Korver, and Devin Harris.  Coming off three off days, expect to see a full line-up out on the court for the Hawks in Philadelphia.

For the Sixers, expect to see plenty more playing time for some of the young guys off the bench.  Jrue Holiday recently came out and said he’s been fatigued by playing a career-high 38.3 minutes per game.  Thad Young has also logged a career-high in minutes, averaging 35.0 per game.  The Sixers’ two best players certainly looked worn down last night, with Holiday neglecting to attack the paint and Thad Young uncharacteristically shooting poorly and lacking effort on the boards. 

Whether they’re physically beat up, or emotionally drained from having to carry such a heavy load for a losing team all season, there’s no sense extending the starters’ minutes when there’s nothing to be gained in the standings.  In last night’s blowout loss, Arnett Moultrie did log 24 minutes, the most time he’s received in a game in over a month.  The Sixers gave up a future first-round pick and a second-round pick for Moultrie; it’s time to give the rookie every opportunity to carve out a place in the rotation going into next season.  Charles Jenkins and Justin Holiday should also be given more time to determine whether they can be effective role players for a team that will need a back-up point guard.

Keys to the Game:

  • Show some heart on the boards.  We mentioned last week that the Hawks are a poor offensive rebounding team, so on paper, the Sixers should control the defensive glass.  That being said, given their (lack of) effort in that area last night, who knows what to expect from the Sixers.  If the starters don’t want to put a body on Horford and Smith, maybe some of the bench guys eager for more playing time will.
  • Work the ball around on offense.  Although the Hawks are a solid defensive team, one area where they struggle is defending the three ball, as opponents are shooting 37.8% behind the arc, the third-worst defending rate in the league.  Do not settle for shots early in the possession and force the Hawks to rotate around the perimeter until Holiday, Wright, or Turner (from the corner) get an open look.

Prediction:

Philadelphia will be playing the second night of a back-to-back, while Atlanta has used the past few days to rest a number of minor injuries.  The embarassing loss to the Sixers at home last week should be fresh in the Hawks’ minds and drive them to put forth their best effort.  Even given their better play at home throughout the season, the Sixers fall to the Hawks.

Kronum League Season 4 – Week 1 Recap

The Work Horses had no answer for Ryan Coyne in Week 1 as he scored a league-high 44 points.

Nimble Jacks 145, Work Horses 97

The Nimble Jacks entered Week 1 action determined to shut down the Work Horses’ leading scorers Phil Cavalcante and Luke Dougan.  With Jacks defenders shadowing those two players, it was up to the rest of the Horses to pick up the slack.  Things started out well for the Horses as they jumped out to a 20-13 lead behind some hot shooting from Matt Kump and a 4-point ring from Dave Slusser.  However, it was all Jacks the rest of the way, as the rabbits went on a 36-9 run to end the period and lead 49-29 after one.  It was more of the same from that point on as the Nimble Jacks continued to score at will, cruising to a 48-point victory.

The Jacks shot a league-high 51.2% as a team, scoring from all over the field as they reached double-digits from each of the four zones.  Seven different players reached double figures for the Nimble Jacks but Ryan Coyne was the main catalyst for the attack.  The veteran ranger shot 66.7% from the field in tallying 44 points, 13 more points than any other league player scored in Week 1 action.  Matt Kump finished with 22 points to lead the way for the Horses.  After both averaged over 23 points per game last season, the Jacks’ shadowing tactics held Dougan and Cavalcante to 12 and 9 points, respectively.

Urban Legends 121, Jet Sets 109

In the week’s most closely-contested contest, the Urban Legends overcame some injuries to edge the Jet Sets.  With one of their top players, wedgeback Kevin Glover, already sitting out the game with a sprained MCL, the Legends also lost ranger Pat Dexter to a broken leg in the first period.  Despite playing short-handed, the Legends fought tooth and nail with the Sets, as the game remained close throughout the first two periods.

Then, although he finished the game shooting just 25.0%, Legends’ leading scorer Kevin Clark stepped up when it mattered most, knocking down an 8-point Kronum to take a 5 point lead with 8 minutes left.  On the next possession, Clark hit a 4-pointer from the cross zone to put the Legends up nine and the team would not look back from there.  Spurred by that 12-point burst, Clark finished with a game-high 31 points.  Teammate Mike Ragan provided consistent scoring throughout the game, finishing with 30 points and 8 assists.  Jeff Regensburg paced the Jet Sets with 23 points and Matt Parsons chipped in 18 points.

Night Owls 108, Throwbacks 80

In the week’s most surprising result, the Night Owls showed off their new swarming defense in blowing out the Throwbacks.  After a sloppy start by both sides with neither team able to earn much of an advantage, the Night Owls went on a 27-6 run to go up 66-45 midway through the second period.  The Throwbacks called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding but Owls’ captain Kyle McGrath hit an 8-point kronum on the Owls’ next possession, effectively serving as the dagger.

Following all their talk about a revamped defense, the Night Owls backed it up on the playing field.  They sported the best save percentage in the league at 54.4%, as well as tied for most blocks and steals.  McGrath and Bob Zane led the way offensively for the Owls; McGrath scored a game-high 28 points, while Zane recorded 23 points on a spectacular 9-10 shooting.  The Throwbacks struggled to score throughout the game, but wedgeback Jim Bradley did record a double-double with 10 points on 62.5% shooting, as well as 10 saves. 

Week 1 Leaders:

Points – Ryan Coyne (44), Kevin Clark (31), Mike Ragan (30)

Assists – Scott Kennedy (12), Chris Von Tanhausen (11), Ryan Coyne (9), Nick DeLuca (9)

Saves – Sean Kennedy (14), Scott Anderson (13), Derek Clouser (11)

Blocks – Shaun Stevens (7), Dan Geiger (5), Chris Von Tanhausen (4)

Steals – Matt Parsons (4), Chris Von Tanhausen (3), Kevin Clark (3)

Brooklyn Beats the Sixers Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Half Broken Heart Clip Art

The Sixers showed no heart in a pitiful loss to Brooklyn.

During this lost season, there have been plenty of games where the Sixers fought hard but just didn’t have enough talent to pull out the victory; this was not one of those games.  The Brooklyn front court absolutely dominated Philadelphia on both ends of the floor as the Nets cruised to a 104-83 win.  Mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the first time, the Sixers displayed no hustle or desire in boxing out or going after loose balls.  By the end of the third quarter when the Brooklyn starters saw the floor for the last time, the Nets held a 51-22 rebounding advantage with nearly as many offensive rebounds (19) as the Sixers had total boards.  Brook Lopez recorded a game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds (6 offensive), while Reggie Evans bullied his way to 17 points and 24 rebounds (9 offensive).

The onslaught started early on as Brooklyn used a 19-7 rebounding advantage to jump out to a 31-18 first quarter lead.  Reggie Evans already had a double-double twelve minutes in, with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Brook Lopez tallied 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the frame.  The only thing keeping the Sixers even somewhat close initially was some hot shooting by Jrue Holiday, who made 3 of 5 shots from behind the arc for 9 points.

The Sixers made one brief run in the beginning of the second quarter to pull within 5 points.  A pair of alley-oop finishes by Dorell Wright and Thaddeus Young provided the lone highlights of the game for Philadelphia.  However, that four-minute spurt was all the Sixers had in them on this night, as the Nets continued attacking the glass to stretch the lead to 18 at halftime and breeze through the rest of the game.

The Sixers play again Wednesday night at home against Atlanta.  Hopefully, this sort of effort isn’t what Sixers fans can expect during these final games of the season.  It’s one thing to watch a losing team, but a losing team that stops caring is something else entirely.

Sixers @ Nets Game Preview (4/8/13)

After a poor start to the season, Deron Williams has played at a level worthy of his Olympic status.

Although in the hearts of Sixers fans, the playoffs have not been a possibility for weeks, the loss to Miami Saturday night mathematically eliminated Philadelphia from the postseason.  The Sixers will continue to play out the string toward next year against a Brooklyn team with playoff aspirations of their own.  At 44-32, the Nets find themselves in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, 2 games ahead of Chicago for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.  Their pattern of play lately has been fairly straightforward: lose to playoff contenders like the Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, and Bulls, and defeat lottery teams such as Phoenix, Portland, Cleveland, and Charlotte.  Unfortunately for the Sixers, they are most-decidedly a lottery team.

The man keeping the Nets in the top half of the Eastern Conference has been Deron Williams.  After a year and a half of sub-par play in a Nets uniform, talk was everywhere about Williams being out of shape, uncommitted to his craft, and a diva more concerned with assigning blame to his coaches than taking personal responsibility for his team’s struggles.  However, Williams has rebounded in a big way, putting up post-all star break numbers of 23.0 ppg on 48.0% shooting, and 7.9 apg, reminiscent of his prime days in Utah.  Those numbers would rank him top 6 in the NBA in both scoring, assists, and FG% (among point guards).  Williams has torched the Sixers in the team’s three meetings to stat lines similar to those second half numbers; if Jrue Holiday doesn’t embrace the defensive task of limiting Williams, there’s little chance the Sixers pull off the upset.

The other main offensive threat for Brooklyn is 7’0″ center Brook Lopez, who is averaging Per 36 Minutes career-highs over a full season in points (22.6) and blocks (2.4) over a full season.  Lopez is an average shooter from mid-range at 39.6%, but really excels in the painted area.  Spencer Hawes and the other Sixers big men have to establish position early in the defensive possession and force Lopez further from the basket.  The Sixers defeated Brooklyn at home in March for their lone victory against the Nets this season because Hawes greatly outplayed Lopez.  Not only did Spencer nearly record a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists, but he held Lopez to just 5 points after a hot first quarter.  Surprisingly, Hawes has probably been the most consistent Sixer over the last few weeks, and will need to continue his strong play against one of the best offensive big men in the game.

Keys to the Game:

  • Go at Lopez on offense.  Although Lopez records a decent amount of blocks, those mostly come off weakside help; noone would confuse him as a rim protector.  The Sixers attacked the rim hard in their March win over Brooklyn, earning 27 attempts from the charity stripe.  Despite the Nets fouling at the second-lowest rate in the NBA, Philadelphia needs to force the issue and not rely on an inconsistent perimeter game.
  • Keep a body on Reggie Evans. The task will fall upon Thad Young to make sure Evans does not approach the 4.3 offensive rebounds per game he’s averaged this season against his former team.  Teams often forget about putting a body on Evans because he’s a non-existent offensive threat.  Young and the other members of the Sixers front line must find him and block him out as soon as a shot goes up.

Prediction:

The Sixers’ road woes have been well documented and the Nets have plenty of motivation to earn every win possible down the stretch.  Jrue Holiday’s defensive game has taken a step back this season, likely as a result of being asked to assume a much larger role offensively.  I would look for Deron Williams to have another big game and lead the Nets to an easy victory.

NCAA Championship Game Preview (4/8/13)

Which team will earn the right to unfurl a 2013 championship banner?

#1 Louisville (34-5, 14-4 Big East) vs. #4 Michigan (31-7, 12-6 Big Ten)

What a treat for college basketball fans as this year’s championship game pits the top defense against the top offense in the country.  While it’s always fun to see the Florida Gulf Coasts and Wichita States of the world make a run in the tournament, eventually the cream rises to the top and these two premier programs will do battle in the final.  Each squad spent a week ranked #1 in the country during the middle of the season and has been among the top teams all season long.  However, the two teams have taken slightly different paths to get here.

Louisville started off the season 16-1 with their lone loss coming in a five-point defeat to Duke.  They then a their biggest rough patch of the season, losing three straight to eventual tournament teams Syracuse, Villanova, and Georgetown.  However, the Cardinals then ripped off another nice streak, going 13-1 entering the NCAA tournament including a Big East tournament championship, with the sole defeat an epic five-overtime loss at Notre Dame.  In the tournament, Louisville was never tested until Saturday when the upstart Wichita State Shockers jumped out to a double digit lead in the second half.  The Cardinals’ vaunted full court press eventually got them back into the game for an exciting finish an a 72-68 victory.

On the other hand, Michigan struggled toward the end of the season and had no momentum coming into the NCAA tournament.  After starting the season 20-1 with the one loss being a three-point defeat at Ohio State, the Wolverines went just 6-6 over its last 12 games entering the tournament, including a loss to lowly Penn State.  Michigan has suddenly found its stride in the tournament, cruising to victories excluding a tough overtime victory against Kansas that required some incredible late-game heroics from star point guard and the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Trey Burke.

Despite Burke’s play, the biggest reason for the Wolverines’ tournament run has been the emergence of freshman Mitch McGary.  Over the course of this tournament, McGary has gone from bench player to starter to now being talked about as a first round NBA draft pick if he declares himself eligible.  McGary has jumped from season averages of 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds to 16.0 points and 11.6 rebounds in the tournament, providing an interior component to an offense with a handful of good outside shooters.  He has shown an excellent offensive skill set operating from the high post, setting screens and rolling to the rim.  Those skills will translate extremely well in today’s pick-and-roll NBA.

Aside from his late-game efforts against Kansas, Burke has struggled in the tournament, averaging just 13.8 ppg (down from his 18.5 season mark) on 32.4% shooting, including 25.8% from behind the arc.  He has continued to do a good job distributing, averaging 7.0 assists per game.  Still, Burke will be the most important player for the Wolverines tonight as he will carry much of the burden in breaking the Cardinals’ full court pressure.  Without a performance representative of a player of the year, Michigan’s run will certainly end in defeat.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, and Glenn Robinson III are the other offensive threats for the Wolverines.  Stauskas is the best pure shooter, hitting 43.9% of his threes this season, but is mainly a catch-and-shoot player.  Hardaway Jr. and Robinson III are also capable of hitting the three ball, but also need to be accounted for as options to penetrate the lane.

Russ Smith has been a dominant scoring force in the tournament, averaging 25.0 ppg on 50.0% shooting.  The scoring is nothing new for Smith, who has averaged 18.9 ppg on the season, but the efficiency is, as his usual 42.1% shooting labelled him as more of a gunner than an elite scorer.  Smith is surrounded by a bevy of secondary options, whether it’s Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan on the inside, or Peyton Siva, Luke Hancock, and Wayne Blackshear on the perimeter.  Different players step up for the Cardinals on any given night, as evidenced by the 20-point effort from Hancock to guide Louisville to its comeback over Wichita State.

The Cardinals’ true strength is their elite defense.  Louisville uses its pressure to force the second-most turnovers in the country, with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith both top-45 in the country in steals.     Of course, none of it would be possible without Big East Defensive Player of the Year Gorgui Dieng anchoring the back line.  Dieng is 23rd in the country averaging 2.52 blocks per game, and NBA scouts drool over his potential as a defensive game-changer.

This game shapes up to be an instant classic between two elite teams and programs, but in the end, Louisville should bring home the trophy.  The Cardinals feature a deeper array of scoring options, making it more difficult for the Wolverines to shut down every avenue of attack.  While Michigan has plenty of nice pieces on offense, that side of the ball can be a hit or miss proposition. However, a staunch defense will always be there for you and Louisville will ride their defense to a championship.

One Star Enough as the Heat Dispatch the Sixers

James didn’t spend much time wondering when his superfriends would join him in defeating the Sixers.

Sometimes, just having the best player in the world on the court is all you need.  With fellow all-stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh sitting to rest minor injuries as the season winds down, LeBron James returned to the court after a three-game absence and showed no signs of rust in leading Miami to a 106-87 victory.  Sporting a game-high plus/minus rating of +22, James asserted himself during his somewhat limited minutes in recording 27 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists.  11 of those points came in the opening quarter when the Heat jumped out to a 15-point lead.  In fact, during the first and fourth quarters when James played the majority of his minutes, the Heat outscored the Sixers 62-29.  To Philadelphia’s credit, they fought back to pull the game to tie the game in the third quarter, but the Sixers had dug themselves too deep a hole to fully complete the comeback.

With James around to draw their attention, the Sixers did a poor job defending the three point arc, as the Heat scorched the nets in shooting 14-25 from downtown.  Seven different players tallied a three-pointer for Miami, led by Ray Allen (3-3) and Mario Chalmers (3-8).  The Sixers also had no response to the high-strung energy of Heat reserve Chris Andersen.  The man they call Birdman recorded a game-high 15 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive glass, in just 25 minutes.  With LeBron back in action, the Sixers absolutely had to win the battle of the boards and limit the outside shooting, and they did neither of those things.

One encouraging sign was Sixers’ all-star Jrue Holiday getting back on track in the scoring department.  Holiday scored a team-high 18 points on 7-17 shooting, including 3-4 from behind the arc.  Two of his biggest weaknesses still showed themselves, however, as he only recorded one attempt at the foul line and committed 5 turnovers.  The next progression of Holiday’s game has to include taking better care of the basketball and attacking the rim more rather than settling for as many long jumpers as he does.  He has certainly made strides this year and a limited supporting cast may be partially to blame but he still has a way to go.

Among other Sixers in action, Spencer Hawes recorded another double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.  Dorell Wright returned to action after sitting Friday night with an elbow injury, although he may have still been affected by it as he shot just 1-7 from behind the arc.  The Sixers have a couple days off before finishing their four-game road trip in Brooklyn Tuesday night.

2013 Kronum Season Preview: Playoff Predictions

Which team will lift the hardware in 2013?

This is part eight in an 8-part series leading up to the 2013 Kronum regular season.  You can also check out parts onetwothreefour, five, six, and seven.

Predicted Regular Season Standings:

RS Standings

First Round Byes: Nimble Jacks, Work Horses

Quarterfinal Match-up #1: Throwbacks vs. Urban Legends

In a meeting between two of the best defenses in Kronum, expect a low-scoring affair with quality scoring opportunities at a premium.  The Legends rely heavily on Kevin Clark’s production on the offensive end; Throwbacks’ captain Joe Ferrigno has the knowledge and the personnel to install a defensive game plan to limit his impact.  The Throwbacks feature a more balanced scoring attack which should prove to be the difference in advancing to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal Match-up #2: Evergreens vs. Night Owls

The two least experienced teams in the league meet in our other first round match.  The Evergreens have shown some flashes of greatness in pre-season action but Joe Petrino is the team’s lone member among their top scorers with experience going deep into the playoffs.  The Night Owls should only continue to improve as the season progresses and all their moving parts gel together.  The expansion club will prove to be a tad green behind the ears as the Owls move on.

Semifinal Match-up #1: Nimble Jacks vs. Night Owls

The Night Owls have been talking the talk about having a new defensive mindset; however, the Nimble Jacks have been walking the walk now for quite some time.  It’s one thing to defeat the new kids on the block, but quite another to take down the defending champions.  The Jacks advance to their fourth consecutive league championship game.

Semifinal Match-up #2: Work Horses vs. Throwbacks

The Work Horses have plenty of quality scoring options which should prove to be a huge challenge for the Throwbacks defense.  The Throwbacks have the advantage in terms of speed and within the ground game.  It will be the powerful arms of the Horses against the disciplined structure of the Throwbacks in the most highly-contested game of the season to date.  In the end, the Throwbacks return to the championship game for the second time in three years.

Championship: Nimble Jacks vs. Throwbacks

In a re-match of the Season 2 championship game, the Throwbacks look to avenge a 136-79 loss in that contest.  While they do feature a top defense, the Jacks can match them save for save on the defensive end.  However, while the Throwbacks are still polishing their game offensively, the Jacks are perennially one of the highest scoring teams in the league, able to score in every facet of the game.  A team does not lose only one game across three seasons without learning a thing or two along the way.  It may be unoriginal to pick the favorite, but the evidence in this instance is overwhelming.  The Nimble Jacks make it four straight titles.

With all of that being said, the Kronum campaign is a long, trying slog.  Any number of injuries, internal personnel moves, and shifts in strategy could greatly affect a team’s prospects going forward.  Every team in the league has the talent to make a run at the championship and we will have to see who among that talent rises to the top.  Be sure to check out all the action starting April 7th on www.kronum.com.