Philadelphia 76ers Stat Monkey Brief: Sixers/Rockets (12/19/12)

Everyone may be talking Harden and Holiday, but this game may come down to the big men Greg Smith and Spencer Hawes inside.

Clashing Styles

The Sixers and Rockets have both been pretty average for the season, but they’ve gotten to their .500-ish records in very different manners. Houston is one of the most prolific offensive teams in the league; they’re third in points per game, 10th in offensive rating and play the fastest pace in the league. Conversely, they’ve been sieve-like on the defensive end, giving up 106 points per 100 possessions and allowing the second most points per game in the league.

As we know, the Sixers are very much a walk-it-up team. Their pace and offensive rating are both toward the bottom of the league - 25th and 26th, respectively - but they’ve held their own against teams that like to push the rock. In 11 games this year, the Sixers are 6-5 against teams in the top half of the league in pace. In seven of those 11 games, the Sixers have played faster than the 90.3 possessions per 48 they’ve played at over the course of the season.

Key Matchup

Greg Smith vs. Spencer Hawes

As Patrick Haneman hit on in Monday's Rockets/Knicks post, Greg Smith has been beasting for Houston as of late. While his minutes were limited earlier in the season, Smith has pulled down at least seven boards in just about 20 minutes per game over the Rockets’ last three games. Even better, his effective field goal percentage has been over 57 percent in each of those three games.

Smith likely be matched up most often with Sixers’ back up center Spencer Hawes when he’s on the floor. Coming off the bench for the first time since joining Philadelphia, Hawes’ rebounding numbers per 36 minutes are at their lowest levels since his days in Sacramento. His shooting has also taken a dip, and one of Hawes’ best skills - setting up teammates from the high post - has gone unused for much of the season, as his assist rate is down to 10.9 percent after sitting at 17.6 last season.