Tonight’s Sixers/Heat match up is really a tale of two teams. The Sixers, a young (sometimes) hungry team, searching for its identity, toying with the idea of the playoffs. The Heat, an old, well-fed defending champ who’s decided it already won enough games to get into the playoffs this year, now it’s time to coast. The Sixers lead the season series 2–1, with each team winning on its home court.
Both teams are coming off back-to-backs, but the Sixers average age is about 25 years younger than the Heat’s, so that’s got to be an advantage for Philly.
When Dwyane (sic) Wade went down with a dislocated shoulder, the Heat’s chances at a repeat looked slim. That’s when their rotund center, who is still the most dominant basketball player in the world, decided to actually show up for a couple of games. The Heat reeled off just enough wins to secure their playoff berth, and then it was back to their cave to hibernate until the games really start to count.
The Heat lost on their home court to the Magic earlier this week, squeaked out a win in Atlanta, then got absolutely annihilated by the Pacers (yes, the same Pacer team that had lost 13 out of 14 games going into last night’s contest). Alonzo Morning’s bionic body is in disrepair, he’s missed some time. Slaq is fouling rather than moving his feet on defense. Eddie Jones and Gary Payton are just old. Antoine Walker is just bad.
That’s the good news for you Sixers fans out there. Miami doesn’t care. Simple as that. Of course, if for some reason they decide to start caring by 7:30pm tonight, then things could change a little bit. On defense, the Sixers have had problems with the Heat in the past. Neither Samuel Dalembert, nor Steven Hunter is capable of slowing down Slaq, and Udonis Haslem always seems to be wide open for 10–foot jumpers whenever the teams meet. Luckily, Dwyane (sic) Wade is the only one on the team who even dreams of breaking down a defense off the dribble, and he’s somewhere playing with a giant rubber band trying to get back for the playoffs, so Dalembert/Hunter/Smith won’t need to worry about helping out too much.
On offense, the Sixers are going to need to rely on Andre Miller. Either J-Wil or Payton will be guarding Miller, and he should immediately take them down to the post and go to work. He can score at will against either of those guys, and when Haslem/Slaq come over to help, Dalembert and Hunter will have room to work underneath.
Still no official word on Andre Iguodala’s condition, here’s a clip from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s wrapup of tonight’s game:
“Iguodala departed with the team on the charter flight to Miami for tonight's game against the Heat. He was concerned about the effect the two-plus-hour flight would have on his back but said he wanted to play tonight.”
If Iguodala is in the lineup tonight, I give the Sixers a fighting chance. If he isn’t, not so much.
Jwil Gets Benched, D-Wade Chokes, Sixers Win. (98–95 Sixers, Jan. 19)