While the Sixers may not be able to match the talent level of the Heat, they’ve beaten them once with a complete team effort (and a little luck, but who cares) and will try to do it again tonight in a much more difficult environment: not at home. Miami isn’t a hostile environment; it’s only dangerous when talking about the opponents. The Big 3 return home and will look to clinch the series early, to give themselves nearly as long of a break as their second round opponents, the Boston Celtics.
With that, another song to get you going. And no, you’re not getting Bon Jovi from me:
And some things to look for, after the jump:
The First Quarter
The Sixers have scored 107 points in 4 first quarters in the series. This includes a miserable 13 points in game 2, for an average of 26.75 points per quarter. The Heat have scored 76, an average of 19 per quarter. So, despite being down 3-1 in the series, the Sixers have outscored the Heat by, on average, roughly 8 points in the first quarter. Most of the difference has come by the first timeout, when Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are on the floor. That lineup has proven to be ineffective so far this series: Ilgauskas isn’t a good fit to play against the athletic style the Sixers bring to the floor defensively, while Bibby simply hasn’t hit his shots to make up for his putrid defense. When the immortal Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers replace those two, the Sixers have had problems.
The Heat’s first quarter struggles have not cost them more than a game so far, but continuing to play it may cost them more rest. The Sixers should look to continue to capitalize on their match up advantage over Bibby and Ilgauskas while also improving on both ends of the floor against the lineup with Anthony and Chalmers (they’ve struggled defensively against them, too).
Thad Young and Andre Iguodala
While AI9 has been widely scrutinized for his poor offensive play sans on half of game 4, he’s not the only Sixer to struggle. With as much pub as Young has received for his play in game 1, he has struggled in this series overall. It also hurts that his game 1 masterpiece was really only a one-half show. Overall this series, both Iguodala and Young have negative Win Shares. Win Shares aren’t perfect, but they tell us something: that both Dre and Thad have to pick up their games to keep the team alive.
Sunday’s game was the first of the series that LeBron aggressively attacked Iguodala’s defense, and he did very well. He drew fouls and overpowered Andre, who generally likes to use his length to pest LeBron. LeBron does not like posting up opponents in general, so it’s a scary proposition for other teams to see him do that, I believe. It’s also a scary proposition to see this team try to defend LeBron and Wade without Iguodala, so he needs to stay out of foul trouble.
Hopefully, the ride continues after today, despite the odds. Game tonight at 7:00 on CSN (and TNT if you’re not from the Philadelphia area)*
*I won’t make the same mistake again, Mr. Barkann. And you’re welcome.