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First Round Matchups: The Points

Rafer Alston vs. Andre Miller
Well, here we are again. The Sixers backed their way into the playoffs, needing overtime to beat a decimated Cleveland team to secure the number six seed. Their prize, a first-round matchup with the Orlando Magic. It's time to break this one down, we'll start with the point guards and get to the rest of the positions between now and the first game.

It's a pretty simple formula, we'll take a quick look at the stats, then I'll break it down to the best of my ability and declare an advantage, either way.

The Stats

AlstonMillerStats041609.jpg
My Take

On the offensive side of the ball, the Sixers have a huge mismatch here that they absolutely must take advantage of early and often. Alston isn't big enough to handle Miller on his own, we should see plenty of Andre in the post, and if Alston switches over onto Green, that's another mismatch. Alston likes to play the passing lanes for steals, so the passes on the perimeter need to be crisp and backdoor opportunities will be there.

The Magic brought Alston in after losing Jameer Nelson for the season. The dropoff from Jameer to Alston is very, very severe and the Sixers have a guy who can take advantage of the mismatch in Miller. Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue spell Alston, Lue would be an even bigger disadvantage for the Magic on this side of the ball. Johnson is probably the best-suited of the three to match up with Miller.

On defense, Alston's speed will probably cause problems, but his poor shooting from distance should minimize the damage. Unless Alston improves upon his 29% from downtown, Miller can go under screens all day long. Honestly, if the choice is between an open three for Alston off the dribble, or an open three for Rashard Lewis on a kickout from Alston, I take Rafer off the dribble every time.

Alston is a veteran, and he takes pretty good care of the ball, so how the Sixers handle the high screen and roll is going to be one of the vital keys to this series. If they're going to double the ball, it has to be very, very aggressive and they have to have their rotations down. Anything sloppy will wind up in a 100% dunk from Howard, or a 40%+ three from Lewis. Gambling is not a good strategy against this team.

Advantage Sixers: Overall, I think Miller's offensive strength far outweighs what Alston brings to the table on the other end. I'd say advantage Miller on this one. The only question is how often will DiLeo call Miller's number.

What do you guys think? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Up Next: Willie Green vs. Courtney Lee.