We've had some time to digest game one, and a couple of things stuck in my mind. Let's take a closer look at a few surprises from game one, and talk about how the Sixers need to adjust and maybe what they can take advantage of.
Obviously, the zone defense was the biggest wrinkle Miami threw at the Sixers, though it probably shouldn't have been a surprise considering how other teams used it with success throughout the season. Solid scouting on Miami's part. The first step to beating the zone is having the proper personnel on the floor. Having Nocioni as the only deep "threat" on the floor isn't going to cut it. Even if he's shooting the three well, which he isn't, he has a devastatingly slow release. Meeks and/or Jrue both need to be on the floor, preferably both, and they need to flash a big man to the foul line to suck in the defenders on the perimeter. This is one way to attack it, but the big needs to be able to hold onto the ball as guys swipe at it, and he needs to make quick decisions and passes out of there to open shooters. The other alternative is to give the ball to your playmakers and have them drive into the zone at angles from the wing. Anything that makes two or more defenders react is going to leave someone wide open. The other imperative is to crash the offensive glass. The zone makes defensive rebounding harder, and Miami isn't exactly a stout rebounding team. Keep your floor balance, but the other guys should be looking to shoot the gaps in the zone when the shot goes up. Standing and watching isn't going to get the job done.
The second thing that stuck out to me was how quickly Miami put the ball in LeBron's hands and completely ignored Bibby in the half court. I realized it would happen, but Bibby played the point for maybe 5 or 6 possessions early before LeBron started bringing the ball up exclusively. I'd prefer Bibby to have the ball in his hands more, but there's probably a way to make this into an advantage. If LeBron is going to be scoring, then it makes it harder to get him into the post, or at least it takes more time. It also gets our best defender on the ball immediately and doesn't allow LeBron to coast. He needs to be careful with the ball and with his passing on the perimeter. It also slows down Miami's sort of slow transition game, meaning LeBron bringing the ball up, making one quick move out beyond the three-point line and going right to the hoop. Having Iguodala on him completely takes that away. There were two or three possessions in the fourth quarter yesterday where Iguodala just completely stoned James.
The third was something I really never expected to see and I have to believe the Sixers can exploit it somehow. Several times, the Heat initiated their offense by passing to Joel Anthony in the high post, then running cutters off him. Anthony had a 20.5% turnover rate and a 2.2% assist rate on the season. Whenever he gets the ball in his hands, the Sixers should attack him, when Miami is intentionally making him a decision-maker, you have to make them pay. This has to be something Collins is noticing on the tape right about now.
The Sixers did a terrible job defending the Wade/Bosh pick-and-roll at the end of the game, and it's easy to understand why. The Sixers had Iguodala on Wade, and we didn't really even get a chance to see how they were going to play it. Wade had too much air space leading into the screen, and basically he was either crossing over and rejecting the screen or exploding right past it and forcing a switch. I think if they're going to have any chance at stopping Wade, they need to double the screen and Iguodala needs to get right up on him, shading him into the screen. The rotations are going to have to be crisp off of it, and the double has to be very, very hard. They need to push Wade back out on the floor and cut off the first pass out of it. I was shocked Miami didn't got to LeBron with Jrue on him on any of those possessions, and I hope the Sixers get the opportunity to see what happens in that situation tomorrow night.
And finally, the foul discrepancy. Just accept the fact that there's going to be a discrepancy, and probably a big one. 24 is bit too big, but don't wast your time hoping calls will even out. Miami has two guys who are very aggressive and stopping them requires fouling them a lot of the time. They have a third guy who has a reputation and likes to scream like an imbecile a lot, that also tends to draw whistles. None of that really matters. I don't mind sending Miami to the line a lot in this series, in fact, I think they need to send them to the line a lot. What they need to avoid is sending them to the line on BS plays. By BS, I don't just mean bad calls. I mean fouling them when they have no chance to make the shot. If Wade gets by his man and has a clean look, by all mean, put his ass on the floor and make him earn the points, but a handcheck foul in the penalty? Come on. By all means, keep fouling them, just make sure you're fouling them at the right time and not just giving them free points. That's pretty much the theory you have to have when you're playing without a legitimate NBA center against a team with two drivers like LBJ and Wade.
The rebounding I'm not even going to talk about. Just a disgrace.
We've got another one tomorrow night. I'm pretty pumped already. Check back in the morning for a playoff edition of Sixers Around the Web, then my game preview will be up in the afternoon, then a game thread extravaganza at 5:30. Let's get back to Philly tied 1-1, huh?