The Sixers entered this game with a talent deficit. Even with Dwyane Wade out, the Heat have more top-end talent. The way to overcome that deficit is to identify an advantage and press it. And keep pressing it until the other team has to do something drastic to take away, then you exploit their fix. Tonight, Doug Collins had a huge advantage handed to him in the first half, and he completely let the Heat off the hook. (game capsule).
Here's your rotation chart. Pay special attention to the first unit in the second quarter:
Allow me to paint a picture for you. The Sixers hung with the Heat through the first quarter, weathering a LeBron James storm, to enter the second quarter down 27-29. LeBron James went to the bench to start the second quarter. With no Dwyane Wade to pass the torch to, Miami was forced to put rookie Terrel Harris on Evan Turner. Turner smelled blood in the water and immediately went on the attack. Over the next three minutes, Turner hit 5/6 from the floor plus a free throw. He went right at Harris, got wherever he wanted on the floor, and carried the Sixers from the two-point deficit to a five-point lead. On the Sixers next offensive possession, Lou Williams drew a foul and Doug Collins removed Evan Turner from the game.
Erik Spoelstra never even had to make an adjustment. Doug Collins completely let him off the hook. If you think maybe Turner was gassed, he sat the final four minutes of the first quarter. I'm pretty sure he's capable of playing more than 3:41 after sitting for 4 minutes of game time, plus one official timeout, plus the break between quarters. If Collins was worried about his cumulative minutes for the game, then get him some rest later in the quarter when LeBron and Battier come back in. You don't take out a guy who's that hot, you just don't. You don't voluntarily cool down a player who's that hot. You don't go away from a tremendous advantage when they're so hard to come by against the Heat. It's unconscionable.
The Sixers showed some heart in the second half, but LeBron James' 21 points in the final 16+ minutes of game action (after Iguodala's eye injury forced him out of the game) was simply too much to overcome. Why Spencer Hawes was even in the game to switch onto James multiple times down the stretch is another question I'd love to have the answer to.
This game was a loss when we looked on the schedule. It was probably a loss whether Iguodala gets hurt or not. It was probably a loss whether Collins takes Turner out of the game in the second quarter or not, but that doesn't make those things sting any less. They were within 3 points with 3 minutes left in the game. It was there. It was right there. I guess, depending on your state of mind, you can either take solace in that or kick yourself for it. Either way, the yo-yo of the second half continues. Win one, lose one. They just better win the one tomorrow night.
Player of The Game: Evan Turner
Team Record: 29-24 (1.5 games behind Boston, 2.5 ahead of the Knicks)
Up Next: vs. TOR, tomorrow night