Game 75 Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

I love when the Rockets take care of business. They did yesterday. They have to do it again tonight as well.

Count me as one of the many who doubted Doug Collins at the beginning of the year. I didn't think he would be in tune with such a young team, and I didn't think he would command the respect that he has. I'm happy for him and the city of Philly.

Saying that, I still want them to get crushed tonight by the Rockets, but I might be biased.

Philadelphia is ranked sixth in the East at 38-36 and would face the Heat if the playoffs started today, so we'll probably all be Philly fans soon enough. They're 4-5 in their last nine, but look a little closer and you'll see that seven were on the road and six were against playoff or near-playoff teams. In fact, they beat Chicago in Chi-City on Monday.

The 76ers play very well at home (23-12) and beat the Rockets in Houston earlier this season, so it's payback time.

Matchups below.

PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Jrue Holiday:

Every time I think of Jrue Holiday I think of that stupid Green Day song. Then, I think about how much better Holiday has been this year since last year. Then I think about how most players make a big jump between their second and third years and I get scared. He's one of the more underrated point guards in the game.

Lowry had another fantastic night, with this one coming with a bum wheel. He finished three rebounds short of a triple double and may have gotten it if the game had been closer and he had played in the fourth quarter. Luckily, Adelman woke up in time to take Lowry out and rest him up. He'll be important tonight.

Advantage: Rockets

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Jodie Meeks: 

Patrick Patterson's buddy from Kentucky is averaging 11 points per game. Evan Turner also gets plenty of time at the 2 spot, and does a little bit more rebounding and defending than the Wildcat.

Kevin Martin was practically invisible yesterday, but he still scored a lot. You would think that I would be used to this by now, but I'm not. He's just such an enigma. Even House would be intrigued.

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Advantage: Rockets

SF: Chase Budinger vs. Andre Iguodala:

Iguodala is dealing with some knee tendinitis, but he's been playing through it, and playing well at that. He put up 19/7/7 in Chicago and back in Houston he nabbed a triple double (13/12/10). The guy can do a lot of things, and unlike Carmelo Anthony he gives effort on both ends of the court all the time. His shooting percentage is up this season, but he's taking fewer shots. Instead he's averaging more assists in the new system.

Budinger seems to have no lingering effects of the injury, which is great. The Rockets will need him tonight. Look for Courtney Lee to get time so Budinger and Martin can guard the shooting guards.

Advantage: 76ers

PF: Luis Scola vs. Elton Brand:

Brand got a 10/11 in the first meeting and will be after another double double tonight. He's been a monster for them this season and has been better than I ever thought he would after he signed that fat contract.

Scola still seems off. He started well against New Jersey, but his jumper isn't where it needs to be. I'm sure he's still not pain-free, and that would explain a lot. But we need him to get back to full strength. Otherwise, this pipe dream becomes a PVC pipe dream.

Advantage: 76ers

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Spencer Hawes:

Hawes got 17/10 last time against us. In fact, the entire 76ers frontcourt killed us. The Rockets have to change that, and Chuck has to box out and keep the 76ers off the road. The Rockets aren't the same team, and Chuck isn't the same player.

Advantage: Even

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Bench:

76ers: Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Marreese Speights

Rockets: Goran Dragic, Courtney LeeBrad MillerPatrick PattersonJordan Hill

Advantage: Rockets, but it's close

Injuries:

76ers: None

Rockets: Yao out,  Terrence Williams probably out

Prediction: Rockets find a way, win by 5

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