The Sixers pulled out a win against the odds, and now trail 3-1 in this first round series against the Heat. This game was amazingly heart-wrenching and fun to watch, if not the most well-played 48 minutes. Check out the highlights above as a mini-recap. Here, we’ll break down the game a bit instead of a traditional review.
That brings me to the keys to the win, which may or may not have been visually evident.
1. Center Play
You might laugh at this, but, it happened to be a key today. Hawes went 1-8, but his defense and rebounding did make a difference. He had 8 rebounds and did well with boxing out Zydrunas Ilgauskas early on – the Heat had only 9 offensive rebounds, down from 20 in game 3.
Plus, the Hawes-LeBron skirmish was unintentional comedy.
Ilgauskas, who had 8 offensive rebounds in game 3, had none today. He has two main roles: to get offensive rebounds and to spread the floor from the “5” spot. He hit no jumpers (went 0-3 overall) and had no offensive rebounds. His lack of quickness and lack of defensive prowess are his weaknesses, something the Sixers exploited early in the first quarter, building what was at one point a 15-point first quarter lead. Without that lead, the Sixers never come back.
Joel Anthony again played active defense, but the Sixers did not go to Thad Young enough for him to make a huge impact. He doesn’t do anything offensively, but he anchors their defense, which at its best is the best in the NBA. He play well today, but he couldn’t make up for Big Z’s shortcomings.
Case in point: In plus/minus terms, Ilgauskas was a minus-18, Anthony a plus-18. (Dampier once again did not play, though Juwan Howard did).
2. Shooting (or a lack thereof)
The Sixers hit open shots today. The Heat did not. Miami went 5-23 from deep, including an 0-4 from Bibby and 3-9 from Chalmers. Bibby himself missed 3 wide open – and I mean WIDE open – attempts, and did not hit with any of his 6 overall shot attempts. Chalmers missed about 4 open corner threes. You can’t expect these guys to make every shot they took. But even one more makes this game potentially out of reach.
Meanwhile, the Sixers hit 8-18 overall, two of them Jrue and Lou’s late threes. Lou’s was highly contested by
LeBron Wade*, and was truly a “nonononononoYES!” moment from Lou, who tends to give fans that feeling often. For an awesome highlight, take a look at this:
*I linked the video but obviously didn’t check my writing. Wade clearly contested this, not LeBron, my mistake. Now back to the program.
Yes, I know you saw this if you watched the highlight video, but this is so cool to watch over and over again.
3. Dumb Coaching Decisions
I only had 2 criticisms of Doug Collins during the game, which is actually low. In the second quarter, he left Jrue in to guard Wade, which is like leaving Gilligan out there to guard the ship against a storm. Also, he played Hawes and Battie a little too much to my liking. It worked in the second half, but in the first it failed, as the Heat’s quick lineup blistered the Sixers for easy fast break points.
Erik Spoelstra, however, made a lot of questionable moves. I alluded to one earlier – the Heat have been beaten badly with Ilgauskas on the court the entire series. I see no reason for him to even play (not that I’m complaining), But he played early when, as I mentioned earlier, the Heat built up a huge deficit. The Sixers aren’t nearly as good as the Heat when they play well and they play their best lineups – the Sixers won the game with Big Z on the floor, and Spoelstra has to realize that.
Also, the Heat gave up on the zone after one possession. The defense that gave the Sixers trouble so much in game 1 has rarely been used since. In the first quarter, it could have been used to knock the Sixers out of their groove. About midway through the fourth quarter, it could have been used against the Andre/Evan 2-3 combo. But they chose not to use it. Only once was it used, during the second quarter, in a possession that ended in an Iguodala three. Defensively, that’s usually a good possession, even if Andre hits it. Once he hit it, though, the Heat gave up on the zone completely. When Andre Iguodala’s shooting ends your attempts at a zone, well, you might have some coaching issues.
And finally, the final Heat possession, well, not-iso is a good call there.