Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sixers vs Heat Preview

The Sixers had the opportunity last night to finish their season with a winning record for the first time since 2005.  They failed at that attempt against a less talented Detroit Pistons team, losing 104-100.  The 2011 season was instead completed with a .500 record of 41-41 and the 7th seed in the NBA playoffs.  Their reward for a season of hard work and exceeded expectations is a second seeded Miami Heat team with championship aspirations. 

The Sixers had an impressive season, no one expected them to make the playoffs and play as well as they did.  A large part of their success was due to Coach Doug Collins and his team system.  Collins implemented a system where the open man gets the shot, not just one player taking all of the shots.  More importantly he finally got the Sixers players to buy into playing defense.  The Sixers ranked 12th in the league giving up only 97.5 points a game, much improved from last seasons 18th ranking giving up 101.6 points a game..  On the offensive side of the ball they ranked 18th in the league, scoring 99.0 points a game this season, again an improvement from 97.7 points a game last season which ranked 22nd.   The end result was an improved record from 27-55 under former Coach Eddie Jordan last year to a .500 record this year. 

The Miami Heat are on a different level then the Sixers.  They made the splash of the offseason when they signed Chris Bosh and LeBron James announced on an egotistical hour long special on ESPN that he was “taking his talents to South Beach”.   With Dwyane Wade already there, the Heat became the instant favorites to win the NBA title.  They had their ups and downs this season, at one point the national media had a field day about crying in the locker room in Miami, but at seasons end the Heat have a 58-24 record, 2nd best in the East and 3rd in the NBA.  They rank 8th in points per game at 102.1 and 6th in points against at 94.6.   

Some teams wait until the postseason to turn a switch on, but it seems as though the heat have had that switch flipped up for a month now.  Having won 15 out of their last 18 games the Heat enter the playoffs on a hot streak.  The Sixers on the other hand come into the playoffs on a little different note.  They have only won 8 of their last 18 games including a 2-4 record in April.  The season series between the two clubs sits at 3-0 in favor of the Heat, with an average win margin of 10.33 points a game. 

The Sixers, although much improved and playing beyond their skill sets, will have to pull off one of the biggest upsets in NBA history to advance.  Overall against all of the playoff teams in the East the Sixers have a record of 10-15, when you add in a 5-10 record against playoff teams in the west their total record against NBA playoff teams is 15-25.  The good news is they do have a home record of 26-15 so their best chance against Miami will be at home for games 3-4. 

The Sixers had a great regular season.  Doug Collins took a team that finished 28 games under .500 last season and got them to finish 41-41 this season.  They are entertaining and rarely get blown out of a game.  I can sometimes be a “Homer” when it comes to Philly sports, but I am also a realist.  The Heat signed big names and have big expectations; the Sixers are just the first team in their way.  The Sixers make it more of a series then most predict, but in the end the Heat win the series in six, 4-2.

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