Nothing like Spongebob to get the playoffs started, right? Ok, maybe not. Just act like the song is going on. It is appropriate.
There will be more Sixers fans today than there has been since 10 years ago, when the Sixers made the finals against the Lakers. Maybe the Sixers can re-create the magic from game 1 of that series, and steal a game from a juggernaut. Or maybe not. But anyway, when watching the game, watch for these things from the Sixers. If they turn out well, an upset could be in the works.
- Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala return to the lineup.
Much to my surprise, Lou looks to be a go for game 1. Now that he’s playing, the Sixers regain their huge bench advantage over the Heat. However, if Lou is not completely healthy and struggles to score, he may actually hurt the team. Getting to the free throw line especially will be important for the Sixers, as they struggle to get easy points in the half-court game. His five free throws per game returning to the lineup will be huge. The Sixers may not be able to compete with Miami without his scoring punch.
Andre should also be back, thrown into the fire to guard LeBron for most of the game. Andre has played with the injury for most of the last 4 months, so I don’t expect him to play much differently than he has. His offense might not exist today, though. Guarding LeBron takes a lot of effort, and at the other end of the floor LeBron is also an elite defender. Look to see whether Andre tries to do much at all offensively or if he moves back into a point-forward role.
- Shock and Hawes
Spencer Hawes versus the Heat center trio isn’t the most talked about pairing in the series, nor should it be, especially since both teams may be more effective without centers in the lineup. However, when Hawes is out there, he has to play well, including hitting midrange jumpers, being a physical post defender, and rotating to help alter shots when LeBron or D-Wade (especially) drive by defenders. He does not have to be Dwight Howard, but he does have to make good use of his 7-foot plus frame to anchor a defense which, overall, struggles to block shots. In his 20-30 minutes on the floor, he has to make an impact.
- Defending D-Wade
If you haven’t noticed, the Sixers struggled (and that’s putting it lightly) to defend Wade. Try as he might, Jodie Meeks isn’t quick enough, strong enough, or long enough to guard Wade. I can repeat what I said about Meeks for Jrue Holiday, and I don’t want to think about Lou guarding Wade for an extended period of time. Evan Turner guarded Wade better than any other Sixer, but you have to wonder if Collins will even play him. If Wade is limited to his season percentages and free throw numbers, that’s a success, since we really haven’t been able to do that before.