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Speights to start

Breaking news here from "The Palace at Auburn Hills."

Okay, not incredible breaking news, as we all new someone would have to start in place of injured power forward Elton Brand tonight against the Detroit Pistons (8:10 tip).

But the news is that certain someone will be rookie Marreese Speights, who will be making the first start of his very young NBA career.

Before the game, Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks said he went with Speights rather than, say, Willie Green (my suggestion, not his) because of the matchup with Rasheed Wallace. Cheeks said he prefers going bigger tonight to start the game, although said the Sixers would definitely go small at some point.

"Speights has a challenge ahead of him," Cheeks said. "He will be guarding Rasheed Wallace. But Speights has been very good for us ... When you're starting out with the rest of the starters, they will help him along out there."

So the Sixers starting lineup will be Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, Samuel Dalembert.

The word coming from the Sixers locker room is that this won't be an opportunity to show their stuff without Brand in the lineup. All said what they see it as is an opportunity for other guys (i.e. Speights, Reggie Evans, Dalembert) to contribute even more than they have been.

Let's take a quick look at this game:

No. 1) Allen Iverson. While this is certainly not the first game against his former squad, it will still be fun. Reggie Evans said a few minutes ago that Iverson has the "heart of a lion." Awesome.

No. 2) More importantly: Can the Sixers compete with the Pistons? Especially on the Pistons' home floor, "The Palace"? My gut feeling is the X factor tonight for the Sixers is going to be reserve guard Lou Williams. He hasn't played well through 19 games this season. His shooting percentage is too low for a guard who doesn't take many 3-pointers. But he played well in the fourth quarter against the Lakers on Wednesday night. Could that propel him to a breakout performance tonight? I think if the Sixers can get 15+ points from him, it could be interesting.

No. 3) A glimpse of last year ... revisited? With Brand staying in Philly with that strained right hamstring, might the Sixers breakout with that pressure defense and transition game of which they have been speaking all season?

Check out the photo. That's a thrilling snapshot of the arena known as "The Palace at Auburn Hills." Gametime in 35 minutes ...