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IC Cold Links: Pacers Need To Match Sixers' Defensive Intensity

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The Philadelphia 76ers have been impressive in the early stages of the NBA season, compiling a 5-2 record. Like the Pacers, the Sixers have had a favorable schedule with only one win over an opponent with a .500 record (Phoenix 4-4). To their credit though, Philly started the season with a West Coast road trip and survived to go 3-2 before their first home game.

But it is the way Philly is crushing teams when they win that is impressive, with a league-leading defense that only allows 85.6 points per game. The Sixers also lead the league in point differential at +15.3 per game.

Something will have to give tonight, though since the Pacers are third in the league defensive efficiency while giving up 89.3 points per game. Last season the two teams split their four-game series but Philly's deep team of athletic players gave the Pacers problems.

That continues as two of the top four scorers for the Sixers come off the bench including leading score Louis Williams (17.1 ppg). Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner also bolster the second unit for Philly making for an interchangeable eight-man rotation.

The Pacers will have an advantage in the front court if Roy Hibbert can continue his reliable play. Philly is thin in the middle with Spencer Hawes being the only viable center and he is dealing with a back issue that forced him to leave their last game early.

Regardless, this game is going to be a bear for the Pacers which means it will be a great opportunity to establish where they belong in the pecking order in the Eastern Conference.

Check out the links after the jump.