Philadephia 76ers Showing Passion and Pride in Preseason Play

Mick MillerAnalyst IOctober 20, 2008

After winning their opening preseason game against the Celtics, the Sixers went 2-2 in a home-and-home series with the Knicks and road games versus the Raptors and Cavaliers. 

On Tuesday, they host the Cavs for the second time.  The game starts at 7 pm.  On Wednesday, the Sixers close out the preseason in New Jersey.

So far, the signs are all positive leading into the coming season. Thaddeus Young is showing a consistent stroke from behind the three-point line. Mo Speights looks ready to contribute now. 

Andre Iguodala matches up well with opposing two-guards. And Coach Cheeks is sticking to the script.

When Kareem Rush opened training camp running with the starters instead of Thaddeus Young, the concern was whether Cheeks would commit to playing Young at small forward. 

That was answered with the last preseason game, when Elton Brand was out of the lineup for the birth of his son and Sam Dalembert was out resting a sore knee.  Without the starting center and power forwards, the temptation was to go with either Green or Lou Williams at the guard spots, and start Iguodala and Young at the forward positions. 

Instead, Coach Cheeks inserted Speights into the starting lineup and Theo Ratliff started at center.  That was a vote of confidence for Thaddeus' development in adjusting to his new role as the starting small forward.  If he continues to play as well as he has, look for Young to be the guy knocking down the shots when Brand draws the defense.

With Iguodala and Young adjusting well to being the focal points on the perimeter, this team figures to have one of the most balanced attacks in the entire league.  The way Young's been shooting the ball, he very well could be in the running for Most Improved Player. 

While Miller's numbers might dip a bit with the emergence of Young and development of Lou Williams, all five starters could average in double figures—with Young taking the biggest leap of them all.  If he continues to show a reliable stroke, the Sixers will be relying on him for offense.

The way this team has been constructed reminds me a little of the Pistons in 2004.  Thaddeus Young looks like a Tayshaun Prince-type of player—with a lot more upside.  Andre Miller has the Chauncey Billups swagger and savvy, even if he doesn't have the three-point range. 

Elton Brand brings the Ben Wallace muscle without being an offensive black hole.  Mo Speights has that Antonio McDyess quality about him.  Reggie Evans also brings a Ben Wallace-type quality, including the offensive limitations.  Royal Ivey is our Lindsey Hunter. 

Willie Green is part Flip Murray, Vinnie Johnson, and Arron Afflalo.   Lou Williams has to be a difference maker for us because the majority of teams will not have an answer for him. 
And while it's hard to compare Andre Iguodala to Rip Hamilton, but I certainly like him better in that match-up over Tayshaun Prince. 

I guess you can throw up Ratliff and Donyell Marshall against Rasheed Wallace, but that's hoping that 'Sheed doesn't show up to play.  Fat chance when it comes to facing his hometown squad in his Air Force Ones. 

The games for the Sixers start to count next week, when they host the Raptors on Wednesday and the Knicks on Friday.  For now, all eyes will be on the Phillies, as they open the World Series on Wednesday in Tampa.  I say the Phils take it in six.  1980-2008. 

This is our year.  I don't care what Amar says