The biggest game of the season was probably played Wednesday night...until tonight, that is. The Miami Heat come into the WFC with their roster fully healthy, super-motivated after coughing up a huge lead in Milwaukee, looking to assert their dominance. The Sixers, on the other hand, have a chance beat the two best teams in their conference in consecutive games. That's a statement.
ESPN really dropped the ball in their scheduling tonight. They're airing the Knicks (8-14) at the Celtics (11-10), instead of the Sixers (16-6) vs. Miami (16-6). They're also missing out on probably the two most athletic teams in the league locking horns.
Spencer Hawes remains out, and Battie will continue on as the starter next to Brand up front. I think Jodie will have his first run of the night to see if he's hot from deep, if not, we'll get Jrue/Turner/Iguodala sooner rather than later to give Collins the ability to switch/swarm on the perimeter with his three best defenders. Also, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Sixers go extra small for stretches to match up with Miami's lineups with LeBron at the four: Thad, Iguodala, Turner, Lou/Meeks, Jrue. I'd actually prefer to see this lineup when Anthony is at the five, rather than Bosh.
Here's the emotional balancing act. The Chicago game should've proven to a lot of people the Sixers belong with the group at the top of the Eastern Conference. It should've proven to the Sixers themselves they belong. Now how does that manifest itself? Will they play loose tonight, will they play their game with confidence? Or will they be too sure of themselves? The Sixers are at their best when they don't care about their opponents. When they go out there, execute their own game plan and play with unbridled energy, they can beat anyone. The confidence opens doors, the energy pushes them through. Without the energy, their confidence is misplaced. Without confidence, their energy loses focus and they squander opportunities. Have confidence in your system, in yourselves, in each other and in knowing that if you put the extra effort in, you'll get the win.
The tip is at 7pm. This is your game thread. I'll be right here throughout, join me if you're in the mood for a statement win.
Prediction: PHI 95, MIA 89
The Sixers are two-point dogs, at home. One last thing to keep an eye on, the pace of the game. Miami plays at an extremely quick pace, the Sixers should look to slow them down.