Tag: Heat 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat - Game Two

NBA Playoffs: Heat will close out tonight or regret it Sunday


The Miami Heat are going to close out this series tonight.

Sure, in theory in one game anything can happen (the NCAA bases a whole basketball tournament around that theory). Even Burnie (the Heat mascot you didn’t know had a name) will admit this Heat team is fully capable of playing a lazy, terrible game where they can lose to anyone.

But the truth of this series is that when the Heat are focused, when they defending, controlling the tempo and attacking, they are the better team and there is nothing the 76ers can do about it.

And the Heat know this — this is in essence Game 1 of the Celtics series. Miami vs. Boston starts Sunday if the Heat win Wednesday, which means three days of just practice, recuperation and preparation. If Philly wins Game 5, then Game 6 is Friday night and the Celtics series still starts Sunday. One-day turnaround — and the Heat’s home court advantage is virtually wiped. Out. Go to a Game 7 with Philly and Miami’s problems will be bigger than the short turnaround.

What the Heat need to do is get out to a fast start — the stat of the series is that the Sixers starting five has outscored the Heat starting five, 131-102. Not making that up. The Heat thrive when Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony get on the floor, but Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are impressing nobody. They need to in Game 5, the Heat need to announce their presence with authority.

Look for the Heat to get a lot of Chris Bosh early then a lot of either Wade or LeBron to follow. Look for them to really crank up the defensive pressure and turn that into a couple fast break opportunities. Look for the Heat to attack the rim and get to the line like they did in the first couple games. Look for them to own the boards.

For Philly, they need to generate some offense early in the clock before the Heat defense gets set, something they have struggled to do much of the series. They will need the injured Andre Iguodala to break out. They will need monster games from Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday to exploit the Heat’s weakness at the point.

In theory all that could happen. In reality, the Heat are the better team and will show it tonight.

Sixers’ Iguodala’s knee pain has been worse than he’s let on

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four
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Andre Iguodala has struggled through the playoffs.

The most explosive wing player on Philadelphia has shot just 31.6 percent overall and 25 percent from three. He is averaging only 8.8 points per game. He has looked like a shell of the guy who won gold with Team USA in Turkey last summer. That guy looked at home with the best in the NBA. Granted in the playoffs he had to track guys like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade out on the wings, but the drop-off has been more than that.

It has been his knee.

He admitted to the Philadelphia Daily News just how much it has been bothering him.

The chondromalacia in Iguodala’s right knee, a chronic condition that dates back more than 5 years, flared in mid-March. That’s right about the time Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was shelved with the same condition, possibly for as long as 3 months.

Because the injury flared in March, during the playoff chase, there was not such rest for Iggy. Then in the playoffs he has had the job of being an offensive focal point while dealing with LeBron and Wade. Good luck with that on two good knees.

“It hurts, because you can’t really lift,” Iguodala said. “You go into a jump shot and you feel like it’s going to give at times. You feel a pinch. You don’t know if the pain is going to come back. You’re thinking about it every shot. Every plant. That’s probably the toughest.”

After tonight, despite his and the Sixers best efforts, Iguodala will have a summer to rest that knee (maybe a long summer depending on the lockout). Next season he will be back to his old self. So long as his knee holds up.

Are the Miami Heat clutch? Not by the numbers.

Miami Heat forward James reacts on the bench while playing against the 76ers in the second  quarter during Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Philadelphia

The real test for the Miami Heat is coming.

No, not Tuesday night, they will destroy the Sixers in that game.

We’re talking next weekend, when they will take on Boston in round two. Or the conference semi-finals. Or when the playoffs really get serious. Whatever you want to call it.

There are going to be close games. Hard fought games. And at the end when everything hinges on one key shot…

Boston may have a big advantage. Look at the numbers from ESPN’s Stats team, via TrueHoop, as they walk you through the end of Game 4 Sunday.

Then after the 76ers took a two point lead it was LeBron James’ turn. James was the only Heat player who had played well offensively in the fourth making four of his seven field goal attempts up to that point and scoring 12 of the teams 16 points.

But just like the regular season James continued to struggle in this situation. Including regular season games he is now just 1-for-8 on field goal attempts with 10 seconds or less remaining in games when the Heat were tied or down by three-points or less.

In fact the Heat as a team are now just 1-for-19 from the field in the final 10 seconds when tied or trailing by three or fewer including both regular season and postseason games. That is the worst field goal percentage of any team in the NBA this season.

Yes, that is a rather arbitrary statistic and we could dig up one that says the Heat do make big plays at the end of games by widening the parameters. Yes, this is an example of small sample size theater. Yes, what really matters is that the Heat blow teams out most of the time so the end of game shots are sort of moot.

But it’s something to watch, because in a close playoff game Sunday I saw the 76ers outplay the Heat late. And it makes you wonder. What happens with a physical and stingy Celtics defense on them, how will the Heat react in the pressure of the playoffs? We don’t know. But these numbers may be a clue, and we know the Celtics can execute at the end of games.

Video: Lou Williams dagger three to beat Heat

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Three

This may have been the pinnacle of the Philadelphia season.

This is a pretty good team overmatched in the first round, but on Sunday they were the team that executed better with the game on the line. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were missing shots and defending poorly while Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams were simply just making plays. Like this three ball Williams drains over Wade for the win.

Best part of this three — the crowd reaction.

NBA Playoffs: Philly earns itself one more game this season. One.

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four

If you believed in conspiracy theories, you could say that Miami is going to make a lot of extra money out of the extra home date for a Game 5 Tuesday.

We’re not that guy. We think Miami came out flat as a lot of teams do up 3-0 and let the Philadelphia hang around then at the end of the game the Sixers best players out executed the Heat’s best and they get the win.

It means there will be a Game 5 Tuesday night. And that will be the end of the series. Make no mistake the Heat will show up focused for that one at home and overwhelm the 76ers as they did the first couple games.

But for one game, the Sixers had their day. They played harder, they executed better at the end.

Philadelphia raced out to a 14-4 lead showing off one of the little secrets of this series — the Philly starters have outplayed the Sixers starters. It’s true (they were +25 for the series through the first quarter of this game). Plus Mike Bibby was taking more shots than Lebron James, and that is a bad sign.

But as you expect, the Heat crawled back and were up 6 with 90 seconds to go and you thought the sweep was on. But the Sixers played with pride — give them credit for not rolling over.

Kneejerk reaction everywhere is to climb all over LeBron for missing the game-tying shot late, but as Tom Haberstroh of ESPN’s Heat Index tweeted, you can lay this one at Dwyane Wade’s feet.

One minute left, Spoelstra runs the Wade-LeBron pick-and-roll. Wade had LeBron posted up on Jrue (Holiday), but couldn’t get him the pass…

On other end, Wade relaxes on defense and Jrue drills a 3-pointer on him…

Next play, Wade clears out, misses fadeaway J. Next play, Lou Williams pulls up for a 25-footer and drills another 3 on Wade…

Really though, Wade was the best of the big three today. Chris Bosh lived on the perimeter (where he is not effective). The Heat’s bigger problems was terrible point guard play from Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers, which was by-and-large awful.

Holiday took advantage of that. Lou Williams had his moments. Philly played good defense and for one day, one game that was enough.

It’s will not be Tuesday. Miami will want a few days off before taking on Boston starting the following weekend. But for one day Philly showed why they were a pretty good team that made the playoffs this season.

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