The Philadelphia 76ers have won two straight games on the road and will look to make it a third tonight when they take on the Sacramento Kings. The Sixers had some impressive offensive performances in their last two wins, and have even made some strides on the defensive end when it has come to help defense and defending the three.
The trending problem in the two wins and in the last three games overall has been the suspect defense of center Spencer Hawes. A bit of a trend is developing where Hawes is making a habit of getting dominated by the opposing center and making every average big man look like the second coming of Shaquille O’Neal.
In a loss to the Phoenix Suns, Miles Plumlee had a career high 22 points and 13 rebounds. In a win against the Los Angeles Lakers, Jordan Hill put in 18 points and 13 rebounds, and last night against the JJ Hickson had 19 points and 11 rebounds. These are not necessarily household names, and Hawes turned these guys into superstars. Hawes has been brilliant on offense this year, but sometimes he has been a little slow on the defensive end and he is not using his length to his advantage.
Tonight, Hawes will have his hands full yet again, as he will have to bang bodies with DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is averaging 22.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, so the key for the Sixers tonight is going to have to be Hawes doing everything he can to slow the big guy down. If he struggles again, Brett Brown might have to turn to Lavoy Allen, who played surprisingly well in limited minutes last night. Allen has proven to play tough defense when he wants to, so if he comes out motivated tonight, it might be wise to roll with him.
If the Sixers are going to win three straight for just the second time this season, the guy they have to keep in check is Cousins, and the responsibility of that lies almost squarely on Hawes.