If LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are merciless in attacking the basket, like they were tonight, I'm not sure any team in this league can beat them. I've seen the Heat play way more than I've wanted to this season, and I have yet to see those guys play like they did tonight. I'm sure there are adjustments Doug Collins can make to slow one of them down, but right now none are coming to mind.
Charts (Rotations later)
- It's a testament to the Sixers resiliency, and potency, that they were able to stick with Miami as long as they did tonight, considering the level at which Wade and LeBron were playing. It's also going to make me a bit sad if Miami is able to pull out a championship this season, because what does it really say about the league and the sport if a team made up of three players can do that? It kind of kills the idea of teamwork being paramount. Two-and-a-half men shot 34/56 from the floor and scored 91 points tonight. The rest of the team combined to shoot 7/27 and scored 20 points. And really, those 7 made field goals were 5 spoon-fed threes and a couple of dunks by Dampier.
- The Sixers defense early, and their bench throughout the game were the story. Lou Williams especially took this game over. Unfortunately, the first time the bench pushed the lead up to 16, Dwyane Wade went nuts. The second time, when they pushed the lead to 8, Dwyane Wade went nuts again. It was quick, it was efficient and it was basically unstoppable.
- The best news of the night is that Miami's win, coupled with Boston's loss, puts the Heat only a half game behind the Celtics for the #2 seed. If you look at Miami's upcoming schedule, I don't see any way they're going to finish behind Boston. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they catch the Bulls. So, from the Sixers' perspective, if you want to avoid Miami in the first round, which I think I do, staying ahead of the Knicks is imperative. To that end, the Knicks lost at home to Milwaukee tonight and the Melo era continues it's pitiful slide into mediocrity.
- If the Sixers do somehow manage to catch Miami in the first round, I'm not expecting a sweep. The Sixers took more punches tonight than most teams would've, under the circumstances. Each time, they got back up. They even had a shot with just over a minute left in the game. They can play with Miami, and if either Wade or LeBron has an off shooting night, they're probably going to win the game. In a 7-game series, though, I just don't think they'd have any chance at overcoming those guys. They have a much better shot against the other three teams atop the East.
- Lou is clearly your player of the game. He tailed off late in the fourth, but his 24 points on 12 shots was simply electric. I actually thought he put them in position to win the game early in the fourth, and I was surprised when Collins pulled him for Iguodala early in the quarter. I thought his offense was really the only thing that was slowing down Wade on the other end, if that makes any sense. I could've lived without the four turnovers, though.
- If not in the actual matchup, I do think this game was probably a decent preview of the playoffs in terms of Doug Collins' rotations. He basically went 7 deep, then gave spot minutes to Nocioni and Turner in each half.
- I was pretty shocked to see the overall pace of the game, but I guess it makes sense when you consider how both teams were itching to push the ball so they wouldn't have to play offense in the half court. This would be a very entertaining playoff matchup for an outside observer.
- Elton Brand was a warrior tonight, but an ineffective one. 4/10 from the floor for 8 points just isn't going to cut it. I'm not sure if it was Miami's game plan, their philosophy or poor execution by the Sixers offense, but Brand just never had room to work when he caught the ball. He was always in a pack of players, and rarely facing the hoop. Late in the game, I thought there was a chance for him to get his patented elbow jumper pretty easily, but Lou wound up dribbling the ball until he was trapped against the sideline. That was really the only clear opportunity he had in his sweet spot. They need to do a better job setting him up.
- File this one away. Realize you can play with them, as much as anyone can when those guys are playing like that, and get ready to take care of business against the Kings.
Player of The Game: Lou
Team Record: 37-35
Up Next: vs. Sacto, Sunday afternoon