Taking game one in Miami would've been unbelievable. Ideal, even. It didn't happen, but perhaps something more important did. No one knew if the Sixers who went on that tremendous run could suddenly reappear for the playoffs. Well, they did, in a big way.
Player of The Game:
- The first quarter was simply a thing of beauty. Beginning to end, but especially the 9-0 run right there in the middle. The Sixers were the aggressors, on both ends of the floor. They were moving the ball extremely well, they were beating Miami to every loose ball, pushing the pace, and when they did wind up in the half court, they were patient. They probed, they drove, they kicked, they found everyone in their sweet spots. Miami simply wasn't ready for them.
- The second quarter was an atrocity, and I think Doug Collins needs to take a good deal of the blame for this. After that first quarter, Collins let up. He started a lineup of Hawes, Young, Nocioni, Turner and Williams and Miami capitalized immediately on both ends. They went to a zone and without a legit playmaker, nor a legit threat from deep, the Sixers simply couldn't do anything against it. Defensively, this was one of the the worst units Collins could've possibly used and it showed. The refs didn't exactly help Philly's cause, but Collins opened the door by clearing his bench and leaving them in the game too long. The lead was pretty much gone and Miami had found their rhythm by the time Igudoala got back in the game.
- Honestly, I was shocked Collins went 11 deep tonight. Hawes didn't help things by proving to be completely useless in every way and getting in foul trouble, but I thought Collins could've pushed some guys a little bit more for minutes. On the other hand, the furious comeback in the fourth quarter was largely an energy thing, maybe they had that much energy because he rotated fresh bodies in so much. Who knows.
- Speaking of that comeback. Unbelievable is the only word that comes to mind. Thad hit two layups, the Sixers forced a couple of turnovers on the other end. Then Jrue canned two threes to push the run to 10-0. Then Jrue had a heat check from deep that didn't fall, but Thad grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled on the putback. Unfortunately, he missed both free throws. Those freebies might've been the key to the game. Thad would connect on another layup to bring the Sixers within 1, but that's as close as they would come. Dwyane Wade's
offensive foul crazy running bank shot put Miami up by 5 with 1:34 left. Thad answered with another layup at 1:23, but those were the last points the Sixers would score.
- The main reason I'm feeling pretty good right now is the resiliency the Sixers showed in this game. There were long stretches in this game where Miami just looked unstoppable, but some of that was fool's gold. If you go back and look at Miami's scoring, so much of it came on long twos and jumpers. Those are exactly the shots we want them taking. If you can either (a) avoid fouling so much or (b) get a game that's actually officiated on a level playing field, Miami's offense will sputter.
- Beyond going so deep into his bench, the thing about Collins' rotations that really baffled me was how little he used Meeks. Meeks shot was on tonight, he was doing a pretty good job on Wade, but he only got 27 minutes. This despite the fact that Miami broke out the zone several times. I thought Collins should've immediately gotten Meeks off the bench when the offense sputtered against the zone early in the second. Then he was glued to the bench down the stretch as well, while Lou was mostly ineffective. Head scratcher.
- Let's cross our fingers that Lou was simply knocking off rust tonight, because he did not look spry at all. They're going to need more out of him.
- Speaking of looking spry, Iguodala looked like himself on the defensive end, but his offense was completely absent. They can't win with him only scoring 4 points. He was setting guys up, but he needs to hit some shots to keep LeBron honest. LeBron's 14 rebounds were a result of Iguodala's inactivity on the offensive end.
- Interesting wrinkle late in the fourth. Miami decided Wade was going to make the plays and Collins put Iguodala on him and Jrue on LeBron. Miami complete ignored the massive size mismatch the "MVP" had and kept the ball in Wade's hands. Obviously, it worked out for them, but still, that was shocking.
- Nothing for anyone to hang their heads about after this one. The Sixers were right there in a game they really shouldn't have been. The things they've used to take advantage of more talented teams were on full display and if they can bring this kind of energy every night, it's going to be an exciting series. I'm still sticking by my prediction of them splitting the first four games.
- Pretty great playoff debut for Jrue, by the way. 19 points on 12 shots, 3 threes, 6/6 from the line, 5 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and 0 turnovers.
Thad. 20 points on 20 shots, which isn't great, but 11 boards (8 offensive) and he really fueled their comeback with unbelievable energy and fearlessness. He probably needs to see more minutes, especially if Hawes is going to play this poorly.
@ MIA, Monday night.