This isn't one of those games the Sixers have to win. This isn't one of those games anyone is expecting the Sixers to win. This is one of those games where an unexpected win would be unbelievably huge, and you just hope the guys on the floor realize it and want it more than the Heat.
Evan Turner got in Dwyane Wade's demented head a little bit the last time these teams met, if the memory of Turner punking him in the second half of the previous game is fresh in his mind, he might have revenge on his mind. Or maybe the memory of Avery Bradley making him look like an old man on Sunday will have him tuned up for this one. Either way, Wade playing angry can go one of two ways, either he's going to drop 40 points and humiliate you, or he is going to be in hero mode from the opening tip and chuck about 15 twenty-footers. Late breaking news, however. Wade is going to have to take out his aggression from the bench. He's a late scratch with a knee bruise.
It's going to be really interesting to see how the Sixers matchup with Miami's "small" lineups. With Bosh or Anthony at the five and LeBron at the four, I think your best bet is still to keep Iguodala on LeBron. Thad would then switch onto the three, which will usually be Shane Battier or James Jones. Sticking with those guys on the perimeter is going to be of paramount importance. The Sixers also have the option of going with an even smaller lineup, something like Jrue, Meeks, Turner, Iguodala, Brand. You can also swap Thad in for Brand and/or Lou in for Meeks. With that type of alignment, you can switch everything and make sure you've got the three-point shooters covered.
Miami is a tough, tough matchup. They put the Sixers strengths to the test with
two of the best perimeter offensive player in the league. Wade's absence changes everything. The game plan now shifts to making LeBron beat you scoring. In the past, without Wade, LeBron has morphed into a 6'8" pg, setting up his teammates all over the floor. LeBron as a PG is far more deadly than LeBron trying to single-handedly beat you with a medley of jumpers. Resist the urge to double LBJ now that Wade is out, let Iguodala do his thing one-on-one, and see if you can bait LeBron into playing one-on-five.
Improbably just changed to highly-unlikely, but I'll take any edge at all in these last fourteen games.
The tip is at 7:30pm on NBA TV. This is your game thread. I'll be right here throughout, join me if you're looking forward to seeing Dwyane Wade frown in a red velvet suit on the sidelines.
Prediction: PHI 102, MIA 95. Call it wishful thinking.