LeBron, Wade and the other 10 guys who ride their coattails think nothing of peaking too early. Tonight, they look to press their NBA season-best winning streak to 20 games. The Sixers, look to improve upon their 18-16 record at home and throw a few more ping pong balls out the window.
If the mini MIA vs. PHI trend continues, this game is probably going to be close. When these teams first met on 2/23, the Heat barely had to expend any energy to rout the Sixers by 24 points. Then, last Friday, the Sixers hung in there for three quarters before the Heat pulled away at the beginning of the fourth. Tonight, the Sixers are rested, the Heat played Atlanta last night (no one played more than 30 minutes, though), the Sixers are coming off their best game in months against the Nets, and their best player might have snapped out of a massive slump. Everything points to a close loss for the Sixers.
Losing by single-digits would be quite an accomplishment. Winning would be a miracle. A miracle which would clearly be the game everyone points to when the Sixers wind up one loss away from winning the lottery and moving up for the right to pick a role player with a top-three pick.
If they're going to win this game (which they aren't) three things need to happen. (1) Jrue needs to match his effort from the other night, but play a bigger scoring role. (2) Spence needs to provide the same production he provided in quarters 2-4 against Brooklyn (and not repeat his first-quarter performance). (3) Turner needs to have his one-in-twenty good game. 20+ efficient points, no whining, and some defense on LeBron. Those three things need to happen, and LeBron and/or Wade needs to be off with his shot and willing to try to shoot his way out of it. Thad just needs to be Thad.
Nick Young is expected to play, so the Sixers will replace one guy who definitely shouldn't be starting in the NBA with another in their starting lineup, one guy who should be buried at the end of the bench will slide into his regular rotation role and one guy who shouldn't be in the league will move back to the end of the bench. Progress.
The tip is at 7pm. This is your game thread. I'll be watching on DVR. If the Sixers somehow manage to pull off a miracle, try to enjoy it. Don't jump off any bridges.