The playoffs, much more than the regular season, are about matchups, adjustments and strategy. Seven game series take on the form of a chess match played between the coaches. The series is usually decided by the talent on the floor, undoubtedly, but coaching can swing a game or two in either direction. Doug Collins is the ace up the Sixers sleeve.
A few weeks back I said I thought Doug Collins would win at least one game in the first round series simply by devising a game plan, communicating it to his players and getting them to execute it. I stand by that assessment. We've got a ton of examples to fall back on from the regular season. Collins might have the best basketball mind in the league in terms of strategy, he's an excellent communicator and his players believe in him. He's known who his opponent will be for long enough, he's had time and he's had practices. He's going to have a serious wrinkle to throw at the Heat, and when it comes to adjustments to be made between games, Collins gets the edge as well.
In Miami, at times, the inmates have been running the asylum. Spoelstra seemed to lose the respect of the locker room after their slow start and I'm not sure he ever fully regained it. Spoelstra has had to manage some monster egos and less-than complimentary skill sets. Things settled down when the team started winning, but when things go bad in Miami, they snowball. Spoelstra lacks the cache to be able to pull his group together in tough times and provide a foundation for them to lean on.
I'm giving Collins the edge here, I don't know how it's going play out throughout the series, but I do think if this thing isn't just completely lopsided on talent early, the Sixers will gain strength behind Collins and Spoelstra will have trouble keeping his stars from trying to win it on their own.
Neither coach has a particularly good record in the playoffs. Collins is 15-23, with one trip to the conference finals. Spoelstra is 4-8 and he's never made it out of the first round.
Check out the entire positional preview series here. Tune in at 1pm tomorrow for a special SixersBeat episode to kick off the playoffs and check back around noon for my series preview.