Blogs > Deitch on the 76ers

Daily Times staff writer Dennis Deitch covers the 76ers

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Brand vs. Stoudemire

For teams that are in close proximity and play each other a lot, the Knicks and Sixers haven't had what one would characterize as a heated rivalry. When the Sixers have been good, the Knicks have been lousy, and vice versa. The last time the teams met in a playoff series was 1978, and that was a snoozer of a four-game sweep by the Sixers.

However, when the Knicks and Sixers play two games in 40 hours this weekend, there will be a little intrigue behind the games. Granted, a battle for sixth place in the Eastern Conference isn't exactly a vision quest, but remember: The Knicks have had nine straight losing seasons and have been DYING to make themselves relevant in Manhattan again. The Sixers, meanwhile, have been among the 10-best teams in the NBA since a 3-13 start and quietly believe they have a shot to upset a first-round opponent if they can steer clear of the Celtics and Heat, who likely will be the top two seeds in the East.

The biggest game within the games, however, will involve Elton Brand and Amare Stoudemire. There has been a long history between these veterans. They had tough head-to-head battles when Brand was a Clipper and Stoudemire a Sun, and if there is any player Brand can point to as a guy who cost him All-Star appearances, it's Stoudemire. (Brand was named to the team in '02 and '06, while Stoudemire's only omission since 2005 was in '06, when he missed nearly the entire season due to injury.)

When you look at the head-to-head numbers (courtesy of, the showdowns have been pretty even. In 16 games, Stoudemire's teams have won 10 of them - although he clearly played on a higher quality team in Phoenix. Otherwise, Brand has outscored (19.8 to 19.3) and outrebounded (8.4 to 7.9) Stoudemire and has had a better field-goal percentage (54.2 percent to 50 percent). When the Sixers and Knicks played at Madison Square Garden earlier this season, Stoudemire had 21 points and 15 rebounds to Brand's 20 points and seven boards, but Stoudemire needed 18 field-goal attempts for his total compared to 11 shots by Brand, and the Sixers got Doug Collins his first win as head coach.

Collins needed Brand to bounce back physically this season after he was lead-footed and lacking hops in 2009-10, and he has been an unsung hero during the Sixers' reemergence as a playoff-quality team. While Brand probably won't be the 20-point, 10-rebound guy he was in his prime, he has been a 15-9 player for the Sixers, and that is exactly what they need from him.

If the Sixers can sweep the weekend, they will be a game behind the Knicks. And if they are to accomplish that goal, Brand will need to show that he can still go nose-to-nose with Stoudemire.


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