Don't look at this game as a golden opportunity. The Sixers come in down 3-2 in a best-of-seven series. This game is not an opportunity, it's a must-win. Odds are, the Sixers will lose this series. It's going to take nothing short of maximum effort to make sure the season doesn't end tonight. Thoughts, keys and in-game discussion after the jump.
The offensive key is extremely simple. Attack the rim. Attack it early, attack it often, attack it from every angle. If the Sixers don't live on the foul line tonight, I'll be very disappointed. It's one thing for Orlando to "pack the lane" with Howard in the middle. It's an entirely different story with Gortat. Andre Iguodala needs to lead this charge, and he needs to do it right from the opening tip. David Thorpe, in his scouting preview of tonight's game
, said "Iguodala has the potential to go for 50 points in this game -- Orlando has been mostly helpless defending him." 50 is a stretch, but I'd like to see him have the mentality he had in the 3rd and 4th quarters in game 5 right from the get-go tonight.
On defense, the keys are going to be pretty much the norm. Don't leave anyone open from three, if your name isn't Samuel Dalembert, Theo Ratliff or Marreese Speights, don't help on dribble penetration. If you are one of the shotblockers on the team, I think this game you have to challenge the driver. Block shots, send them to the floor. Without Howard in there, you have to make it known that the lane belongs to you.
I've touched on this a couple times, but it needs to be repeated. The centers need to help Thad if he gets backed down on the blocks by Rashard Lewis. That's the only mismatch on the floor for Orlando, take it away from them.
One last key, the Sixers need to be aware of who's on the floor for Orlando. If JJ Redick is at the two, Willie, Andre and Lou need to be out on him. Don't give him airspace. If it's Pietrus, you can give him a little more room for the jumper, but you need to protect against the drive.
The tip is a little over 2 hours away, 7:30pm on NBA TV. I'll be right here, so join me in the comments and let's get this win. Biggest game of the season is no exaggeration.