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Q&A with Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers (Sixers blog)

Where Michael and I decide that the best way to decide this game is a one on one battle between Darko Milicic and Kwame Brown.

here we go
here we go
Drew Hallowell

In last year's playoffs, we had a lot of fun going back and forth with Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers. We joined forces once again to bounce ideas and thoughts off each other like basketballs off Kwame Brown's head. Enjoy.

Michael Levin:

So, Jeffrey, how are we feeling about the game?

Jeff Clark:

Actually I'm feeling pretty nervous. You see, you guys fall right into that sweet spot of fast, athletic, scoring teams that give the Celtics fits. And as a bonus, one of your best players is hurt!

That might sound counter-intuitive, but the Celtics have made a habit of playing down the the competition when they have a key player out. Kind of an inverted Ewing Theory if you will. In fact, so far this year you could call it the John Wall theory.

Also, you guys will be (I assume) playing small ball, which has been Doc's big experiment this year - and I'm not convinced it is going all that well.

How about you? How are you feeling about this game?

Michael Levin:

I get the feeling that every writer feels that way about their team. Especially because I'm fully on board with the opposite of everything you said.

The Sixers have not been fast or athletic this season -- and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who has watched them play to actually call them a "team" so much as they're a collection of individuals wearing the same clothes. The offense, which hasn't actually run a play all season, can be best summed up as 2-3 guys standing around and the other 2-3 trying to play isolation basketball at the same time.

Defensively, somehow, they've managed to hold both non-Knick opponents to an average of 68.5 points per game, though considering how dominant NYK was, I've concluded that those outputs were a result of piss-poor execution from Denver and New Orleans.

To say they're an average basketball team without Andrew Bynum is an overstatement. Basically, Damien Wilkins played meaningful minutes. That should tell you what you need to know.

That being said, some of the poor shooting should normalize eventually and if it happens against Boston, they have a chance. But I'd guess that the Sixers lose big again. Treading water doesn't seem to be their specialty.

Jeff Clark:

Last year in the playoffs I developed Lavoy Allen fever. He was all over the place and very productive. Get me caught up on him. What's happened since then?

Oh, and just for kicks and giggles, how are Hawes and Kwame doing lately?

Michael Levin:

Lavoy is like an antique car. If you use him too often, his weaknesses will be exposed and he won't perform well. But if you keep him in your garage with a tarp on him and bring him out once in a while, he's the best. Also he's gassy.

With Bynum out, Doug has used Lavoy and Thad at the 4/5 with Spencer as the first big off the bench. But he's not one for sitting on his hands, so he's already changed the lineup multiple times. Kwame started one game and promptly injured himself. Hawes had MVP chants raining down on him like Passover frogs on the first win against Denver then immediately became HAHAwes again in subsequent games -- probably due to the election stress.

Basically the frontcourt blows without Bynum or Elton Brand. Part of me hopes Doug won't use Hawes on KG for a second but the other, self-effacing part of me wants it to happen SO BAD.

Best case scenario is Thad works Jeff Green inside and out while Lavoy keeps KG in check. The former is a very interesting matchup. What's your frontcourt rotation looking like so far?

Jeff Clark:

Our frontcourt is a funny thing right now. Not ha ha funny, but more "Disney bought Star Wars, I wonder how that's going to work out" funny. There's some great potential there, but there's some risk and nobody (even Doc) is quite sure how to make it all fit together just yet.

Kevin Garnett has been told he's a 5 whether he likes it or not. Which is good because the next 3 guys in the rotation are all listed in the 6'8" - 6'9" range. Brandon "No Pass" Bass is the incumbent who's trying to shed the label of merely being pick-and-pop shooter. Enter steal-of-the-draft Jared Sullinger who's quickly stealing Brandon's spot in the starting lineup. Then there's Jeff Green, who everyone is rooting for and who has enough talent to play, but there's only so many minutes behind Paul Pierce at the 3 which means he has to play minutes at the 4.

Go ahead and Google "Jeff Green at power forward" and "Zach Lowe" and you'll find out how great an idea that is. Still, Doc seems enamored with this small ball lineup in part because he's obsessed with beating the Miami Heat and is willing to experiment early in the year to work things out by the playoffs. Nobody is really sure how that will work but the early returns have been inconsistent at best.

Oh, and I've started a Free Wilcox movement based on his 8 points in less than 5 minutes performance. And don't be too shocked if at some point Darko makes an appearance in non-garbage time, even if that hasn't happened yet.

So to sum up, I have no idea what's going on.

Any closing thoughts? I predict triple overtime.

Michael Levin:

Triple OT: 56-48 Boston.

I always liked Sullinger. Seemed like one of those guys who became so overrated in college that they underrated him come draft time. NBA GM's are such gossiping little girls.

Brandon Bass is still taking wide open jumpers from the top of the key against the Sixers in last year's playoffs. It's currently happening. Doesn't matter that he takes a day and a half to release it -- if Hawes is lumbering over there, he can take his time.

The Jeff Green thing is really why I found the contract pretty awful. Aside from the fact that he wasn't very good beforehand AND he was coming off serious surgery, there doesn't seem to be a real place for him there. But whatevs, he seems like a good dude and I'm NOT NOT rooting for him.

I'll only allow Darko playing if Kwame matches up with him. And if that happens, I propose all 8 other players go sit down and allow them to play one-on-one. It will be a world-changing experience.

At the very least, we'll see Jason Terry and Nick Young shooting 40 foot jumpers in each other's eye. How's Avery Bradley doing? Tell him I luv him.

Jeff Clark:

How did I forget to mention Nick Young? Do you have a nervous tic related to him yet?

Terry broke out the JET in the last game. I hope there's more of that coming tonight. Bradley is hoping to be back in December. That should make our backcourt rotation look something like our frontcourt rotation and my head look like scrambled eggs.


Michael Levin:

We're still at the point in the season where I enjoy the Sixers failures because they're not fully real yet. So every Nick Young shot just makes me smile. Smiling happens. I love it simply because he's not Lou Williams.

Most people say having too much depth isn't a problem but a bloated rotation can be a bad thing. I will happily take Avery Bradley off your hands though. I will take him off your hands and put him in my pocket to walk with me everywhere.

Good luck. I hope you lose and Garnett falls into quicksand never to be seen again.

Jeff Clark:

May Kwame Brown forever be in your rotation.

Michael Levin:


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