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News » 76ers-Wizards Preview 2008-12-18

76ers-Wizards Preview 2008-12-18

76ers-Wizards Preview 2008-12-18
Tony DiLeo is off to an excellent start as the Philadelphia 76ers' new coach. It might not continue, though, without the services of Elton Brand.

DiLeo and the 76ers won't have their star forward when they take on the Washington Wizards for the second time in six days Friday night.

Brand had a season-high 27 points to lead Philadelphia (11-14) past Washington 104-89 on Saturday night in DiLeo's coaching debut with the 76ers. DiLeo, who replaced the fired Maurice Cheeks, went on to win his second game 93-88 over Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

The victory was costly, though, as Brand dislocated his right shoulder in the third quarter. The team announced Thursday that he'll be sidelined for a month.

Brand, averaging 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds, signed a five-year, $80 million contract July 9 after seven seasons with Chicago and two with the Los Angeles Clippers. He was limited to eight games last season with the Clippers because of a left Achilles' injury.

If Philadelphia wants to go small, it could use Thaddeus Young in Brand's place. Young would switch from small to power forward in the starting lineup. Rookie Marreese Speights and Reggie Evans will likely have their roles expanded.

Without Brand, the Sixers could be headed for their sixth straight loss at Washington. Philadelphia hasn't won there since a 112-106 victory on April 9, 2005, allowing 109.4 points per game during the skid.

The Sixers, though, have been outstanding on defense over the last three games, holding opponents to an average of 88.3 points. In its last six contests, Philadelphia is allowing 92.0 points per game after giving up 103.5 in its previous four.

The Wizards (4-19) also don't appear to be in any shape to stop the Sixers' run of tough defense, averaging 87.3 points and shooting 39.8 percent from the field during a four-game losing streak. Washington was held to 40 points in the first half versus Philadelphia last week.

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 17 points and nine rebounds in that game. He had 14 points and 11 boards in an 88-74 loss to Detroit on Wednesday night, playing with a sprained thumb he suffered early on.

His status for Friday's game is uncertain.

Washington, owner of the worst record in the East, can't afford to lose Jamison, who's averaging 19.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.

"I keep saying I'm grateful this is the Eastern Conference," Wizards guard Mike James said. "You can be 10 games under .500 and still be playing for the eighth (playoff) spot."

James was inserted into the starting lineup Wednesday and scored 16 points to lead the Wizards. He took Juan Dixon's spot, and coach Ed Tapscott said James will remain there for at least the next several games as Washington continues to search for a viable option at point guard.

Gilbert Arenas, recovering from his third knee surgery, is out until at least early January.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 18, 2008


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