Our first preview post focused on the importance of exploiting a mismatch at the PG position. Now we're going to have to take a look at mitigating damage from a colossal mismatch at shooting guard. Jodie Meeks vs. Dwyane Wade.
We don't need to spend a whole lot of time on the offensive end for this one. Meeks needs to rediscover his jumper, and he needs to do it before game one tips off. If he does, he'll stretch the floor, make Miami pay for packing the lane and provide the Sixers with that dagger three in transition. If he doesn't, well, Collins is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to get this team to score in the 90s.
On the defensive end, Meeks really can't handle Wade. That's not a slight on Meeks, no one can handle Wade, but Jodie has had huge problems with him so far this year. I expect Collins will start out with Jodie getting the assignment, but he's going to have to switch it up at some point. The goal with Wade is to turn him into a jump shooter. If he's hitting 20-footers and threes, well, there's really nothing you can do. There are two approaches to try. The first is to dare Wade to shoot, give him a cushion to cut off the the drive and see if he'll bite. The problem is that he's so quick, if you give him that cushion he still has the ability to blow by you, or right over you and 9 times out of 10, he's going to get the whistle in his favor if that's the case. The other option is to double and trap Wade whenever he touches the ball. The shooters Miami puts on the floor makes these doubles really hard to pull off, and he's a very good passer. It would take exceptional defense to make this plan work, but Wade does turn the ball over pretty frequently, so pulling out the trap at odd intervals might just work.
The Backups: Well, I guess Evan Turner is going to have one more chance to make something out of his rookie season. If Jodie's shot isn't falling and/or he can't even put up a fight against Wade, Collins is going to have to go to Turner. I expect Jrue will some time guarding Wade, but he won't be in the game all the time and Lou can't do it. For defense alone, Collins is going to need Turner, and Turner has a huge opportunity here. He probably isn't going to slow Wade down, but he's got a chance to use his size to make things harder on him if he can move his feet and at least slow down his penetration. Another reason you might consider giving Turner extra minutes is keep Wade off the defensive glass. Miami relies on Wade and LeBron to clean the defensive glass because their bigs are unbelievably soft. Turner's an excellent rebounder, and works hard for position. If having him on the floor gives the Sixers an advantage on the offensive glass, that could be huge.
Eddie House is Miami's main backup at the two, though Wade will surely play 40+ minutes in any close game. House is a one-dimensional player, the one dimension being shooting the threes (I don't count being a jackass on the floor as a dimension). This is a theme for everyone on the Heat outside of the big three. House isn't exactly exceptional in his one dimension, but he's definitely a threat.
What needs to happen: It's all about keeping the deficit as small as possible here. If I had to bet, I'd say Miami takes this one 30 points to 15. If they can narrow that gap to 30-20, or even 25-15, you have to consider that a win for the Sixers. I'm not optimistic.
Wild Card: Collins does have the option of using Iguodala as a cooler in this game. Whenever Wade starts to heat up, he can shift Iguodala on him, just to keep Wade from scoring 15 in a row and taking the game over. I'd actually like to see Collins do this, use some exotic lineups Miami can't have in their scouting report to try to dictate who will be taking the shots, and getting the ball out of the hands of whoever's hot at critical points in the game.
Up next is the small forwards. Check back in the morning for Statman's look at the Sixers' clutch performance numbers for the season, then early afternoon for the Small Forwards preview. Thoughts in the comments, as always.