Believe: 76ers/Heat Preview
By Justin Diaz

"Believe." It is a simple action that can go a long way. Belief can take a group of overachievers a long way. It did for the Flyers last spring, when they entered the playoffs as a seven seed that nobody expected to make any noise. Two months later, the magical run ended only two wins away from the Stanley Cup. The Sixers find themselves in the same position, a seven seed expected to quietly go into the night. But, as Coach Collins said on Mike and Mike, if they simply believe, anything is possible, especially when a couple match-ups in this series actually favor the Sixers.

Point guard: This season, Jrue Holiday has developed into one of the best young players in the league. An appearance in the Rookie-Sophomore game was a great reward for the 20 year old second-year standout, and his strides this season have been essential to the Sixers success. For Miami, Mike Bibby provides a veteran presence at the point, but is not the same player he was in years past. Any time these two find themselves in a one-on-one situation, look for Holiday to abuse the older Bibby.

Advantage - Sixers

Shooting guard: Jodie Meeks' newfound scoring touch has been a pleasant surprise for Sixers fans. Acquired last season in a trade for Royal Ivey, the move initially stumped some experts, but Meeks' smooth stroke has been huge for the Sixers, as he spreads out defenses to allow for penetration from the likes of Andre Iguodala and Holiday. On the other side, however, the Heat have one of the best in the league. Whenever the Sixers have had success against Miami, Dwyane Wade has gone on a massive run to regain control of the game. He dictates how these games will go, and he has to be the Sixers' number one concern.

Advantage - Heat

Small forward: Iguodala deserve serious Defensive Player of the Year consideration. His consistent effort this season has been crucial to the Sixers' turnaround, and when he's on defensively, the entire team feeds off of that. Yes, his shot still frustrates us to no end, but his high-energy pay is a joy to watch. His number one task will be to contain LeBron, and when looking at Iguodala's history against him, that isn't too far-fetched. If you go through LeBron's career, some of his worst games are against the Sixers, mainly due to Iggy. Obviously LeBron is a once-in-a-generation type talent, and he's going to have his "holy ____" moments in this series, but he will not dominate the way some expect him to.

Advantage - Heat

Power forward: This is the most intriguing match-up in the whole series. It's the hard-nosed veteran Elton Brand and the super-athletic but soft Chris Bosh. Bosh's style of play is great in the regular season when defenses are relaxed and the intensity is low, but Brand's type of game wins playoff series. You need somebody that's going to get physical down low, scrap for the rebounds, and flat-out want it more than the other guy. Nobody can convince me that Bosh wants to win this series more than Brand, who dominated in his only playoff trip with the Clippers in 2006, averaging 25.4 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game. Look for Brand to have his way with Bosh and frustrate him.

Advantage - Sixers

Center: While the power forward battle is the most intriguing, the center match-up may be the most lackluster. Spencer Hawes has been a big disappointment in his time in Philly. He seems more interested in taking threes than establishing post position and actually fulfilling the role of a center, while the Heat have had a steady rotation of has-beens Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier and never-will-be Joel Anthony. The only advantage I can find for either team is the experience of Dampier and Ilgauskas could play a factor down the stretch, but beyond that expect a lot of nothing from the centers.

Advantage - Heat

Bench: This isn't even close. The Sixers have two Sixth Man of the Year candidates in Thad Young and Lou Williams, and will also get big contributions from Andres Nocioni and Tony Battie while Evan Turner could also provide a spark coming off the bench. The Heat have Mike Miller, a solid outside shooter but nothing the Sixers can't contain, Eddie House, nowhere near the player he was five years ago, and James Jones, who can make outside shots as well but shouldn't present too many problems. In their last matchup, the Sixers opened up big leads when both teams had to go into their benches. Expect that to be a common theme throughout this series.

Advantage - Sixers

Coach: Another no-brainer. Doug Collins has taken this team from a league-wide laughing stock to the playoffs in just one short year. Erik Spoelstra's team was crying after a loss. It's quite clear which team respects their coach and which would prefer to lead themselves. If these games are close late, this advantage will manifest itself.

Advantage - Sixers

Going through the individual match-ups, I have the Sixers with four and the Heat with three. The same in the series? It's certainly possible. I could easily see the Sixers frustrating Miami and rattling them. The Sixers are, right now, America's Team. The entire nation wants to see them upset the Heat, and it isn't as ridiculous a proposition as some think. However, even the most loyal Sixers fan has to admit the Heat are the better team and likely to win. My heart says Sixers in seven, but ultimately I say Heat in six. Here's to the Sixers proving me wrong. After all, it doesn't matter what I think. If the men in that locker room believe they can make it happen, I may very well have some crow to eat in two weeks, and I certainly hope I do.

Game 1 American Airlines Arena Saturday, April 16 3:30 p.m. on ABC
Game 2 American Airlines Arena Monday, April 18 7:00 p.m. on TCN
Game 3 Wells Fargo Center Thursday, April 21 TBA  on CSN
Game 4 Wells Fargo Center Sunday, April 24 1:00 p.m. on ABC
*Game 5 American Airlines Arena Wednesday, April 27 TBA on TBA
*Game 6 Wells Fargo Center Friday, April 29 TBA on TBA
*Game 7 American Airlines Arena Sunday, May 1 TBA on TBA

*if necessary

note: TBA = To Be Announced


Rich M.
04/18/2011 18:02

What a SHITTY set of predictions thus far

06/29/2012 01:49

Heat preview.Really it is looking like.Thanks a lot for the blog post.

04/21/2011 13:00

love you Richie


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