sBy Sean Kennedy
Monday night is truly the ultimate battle of the resistible force versus the movable object. Losers of ten straight, the Sixers host a Bucks squad looking downright dominant in comparison with 2 wins in their past 8 games. Currently sporting the bottom-two records in the NBA, these teams earned those records through the two-worst offenses and two of the three worst defenses in the NBA, in what should be the tanking battle to end all tanking battles in the teams’ third and final meeting of the season. Currently sitting 4.5 games ahead of Milwaukee, if the Sixers win tonight’s game, it will, for all practical purposes, make it impossible for them to finish with the worst record, and thus, the best odds at the first overall pick. Something tells me Thad Young and Michael Carter-Williams might need a little more rest than usual tonight.
They weren’t quite as active as the Sixers, but the Bucks did make a move at the trade deadline, sending Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to the Bobcats in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. Milwaukee wanted to shed Neal’s $3M salary for next season and get rid of a guy who had clashed with the coaching staff over playing time and most notably, gotten into a publicized shouting match with Larry Sanders (although to be fair, given Sanders’ bar fight and everything else that’s gone wrong for the center this season, something tells me Neal probably wasn’t in the wrong). On the court, Milwaukee gets back Sessions, who first broke out with the Bucks after being drafted by them in 2007, a crafty player who’s one of the better players in the league at getting to the free throw line. Still, the move was about cost savings and creating a more harmonious locker room environment; the Bucks have no illusions about winning going forward the rest of the season.
The one Milwaukee player having a promising campaign has been point guard Brandon Knight. Acquired in the offseason deal that sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit, Knight has thrived with increased ball-handling responsibilities, averaging 17 points and 5 assists per game, most promisingly getting to the free throw line much more often while upping his shooting at the charity stripe to 82% this year. In February, those averages have jumped to 22 points and 7 assists, as the former Kentucky Wildcat has scored at least 16 points in every game this month. If nothing else during this loss season for Milwaukee, they look like they may have found their point guard of the future.
As for the Sixers, Danny Granger did not practice with the team Sunday and it’s beginning to look more and more likely that he will be bought out, although no official announcement has yet been made. Eric Maynor, Henry Sims, and BJ Mullens are all expected to be out on the court, so at the very least, tonight’s game will have somewhat of a fresh feel to it. The teams split their first two meetings this season, with the Sixers overcoming a 38-point effort from Caron Butler in overtime behind big nights from Hawes and Turner (safe to say none of those players will factor much into tonight’s game), and a 30-point outing from Thad Young not enough in Milwaukee against good performances from Knight and small forward Khris Middleton. The MCW-Knight matchup tonight should be a good one to watch between two young, up-and-coming point guards, and it will be interesting to see what kind of intentional under-the-radar moves each team pulls to aid the losing effort in a game neither team’s management wants them to win. NBA basketball in 2014, everybody.