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NBA Atlanta Hawks

Philadelphia 76ers/Miami Heat Playoff Preview, Plus Prediction

This is where it all starts for the Miami Heat. That 82 game regular season filled with as much drama as mid-day soap opera? Just around 6 months of unwanted distraction for the Heat. No, those 82 games were just a formality. This is the real season, the playoffs. And this is the time of year this Miami Heat team was built for.

Kind of a scary throught if you’re a Sixers fan.

Bottom-line, the Heat have more talent. Also, they’re significantly better than the Sixers in nearly every category. The Heat match up with almost anyone in the league, very well. They especially match-up well against the 76ers, unfortunately. The Heat can score in bunches, but they can also stop you from scoring in bunches. One of the top teams on both offense and defense, the Heat feature an all around solid game.

The 76ers on the other hand, play good defense, but simply don’t have a scorer that can , in any way, rival Dwayne Wade, LeBron James or even Chris Bosh.

The 76ers do have some match ups that, if things go right, could be in their favor. So, lets take a look at them:

STARTERS

Point Guard

Miami: Mike Bibby

76ers: Jrue Holiday

Mike Bibby, a once heralded, up-and-coming point guard, is probably on the down swing of his career. At 32 years of age, Bibby jumped aboard the Heat carousel after being picked up off waivers from the Washington Wizards. Bibby really only offers experience, looking at his numbers, they are underwhelming at best. Believe me, the Heat wish they had a better option.

Jrue Holiday, as Sixer fans know, is a potential budding superstar at the point guard position. Jrue does a lot of good things, mainly known for his defense, Doug Collins has helped open up Holiday’s offensive prowess, as well. In a very talented and crowded NBA point guard pool, Holiday’s name has come up more and more among NBA pundits.

ADVANTAGE: 76ERS

 

Shooting Guard

Miami: Dwayne Wade

 76ers: Jodie Meeks
Dwayne Wade is, well, Dwayne Wade. I could really end it on that. And, I think I will. He’s Dwayne Wade, people. One of the games elite.

Jodie Meeks has proven he can be a legit scoring threat this season, especially from beyond the arc. If Meeks has a weakness, it would most certainly be his defense. Not the best weakness to have when you’ll be matched-up against one of the leagues most dangerous scorers. How, and how much, Meeks plays will be dependent upon whether or not Lou Williams is healthy or not, and whether or not Meeks is being effective on the offensive end. If Meeks isn’t scoring, and Dwayne Wade is abusing him on the other end, which he most certainly will, than Meeks could be pulled for Williams. The Sixers would love to have the luxury to match up Jrue Holiday on Wade, and they can much-more easily do that with Williams in the game.

ADVANTAGE: HEAT

 

Small Forward

Miami: LeBron James

76ers: Andre Iguodala

Lke Dwayne Wade, we’re talking about LeBron James here. Multiple time MVP, LeBron James. Possible NBA MVP, this year, LeBron James. If I have to tell you how good he is, then you came to this site by accident.

Andre Iguodala has proven he has the ability to shut down some of the leagues elite scorers. Iguodala is also a triple-double type player, he has the ability to score, play defense, rebound, and even become a play-maker at times. He’ll have his work cut out for him against LeBron, but I have no doubt Iggy will be up for the challenge. LeBron is going to get his points, it will be Iguodala’s responsibility to make sure he doesn’t break the bank.

ADVANTAGE: HEAT

 

Power Forward

Miami: Chris Bosh

76ers: Elton Brand

Chris Bosh was brought along to be an important piece to the “big 3′s” success. He struggled early in the season, but has seen a bit of a resurgence toward the end of the year. Bosh is what Elton Brand use-to-be, a no doubt about it 20 and 10 type of player. Bosh’s long frame has given Brand problems this year, and he’ll look to continue that trend.

Elton Brand has been the 76ers MVP this season, perhaps even the heart and soul. Brand has bounced back in a big way this season, playing hard nightly, on both ends of the court. Brand’s size and strength could give Bosh a bit of trouble, especially if Bosh struggles early. Brand has the ability to shoot from the outside, something that will be very important. If Brand is hot from his usual range early, it will draw out Bosh, taking him away from most of the board battles. As poor as the 76ers have been on the boards this season, it would help out a lot.

ADVANTAGE: HEAT

 

Center

Miami: Eric Dampier

76ers: Spencer Hawes

The Spencer Hawes/Eric Dampier match-up is similar to the Elton Brand/Chris Bosh match-up, in one, and I mean one area only. If Hawes can hit shots from outside, which he’s capable or doing, it will draw Dampier out from underneath the basket. Other than that, it’s a battle between two average players at their respective positions.

I can’t help but remember the iconic words of Shaquille O’Neal, when I think about Eric Dampier, “Playing like Eric Dampier out there.” And if you’ve never heard that quote, just know, it wasn’t a complement toward Dampier. I don’t frown so strongly upon Dampier’s game, like Shaq, but I still believe Hawes is a little bit better than him at this point.

ADVANTAGE: 76ERS

 

Bench

Miami’s bench is worst in the league in scoring, while the Sixers have been around tops in the league, all season long. Miami’s bench numbers can be attributed to the fact that they have guys like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh scoring 80-90% of their points, nightly. And the 76ers bench numbers are so good, because they simply have to be if they want to win games. Not taking anything away from the Sixers bench, they’ve been fantastic, and one of the main reasons they find themselves in the playoffs, again. Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams should provide some much needed offense for the Sixers off the bench. The Heat’s bench has names you’ve heard of, but nobody that can really be a difference maker if called upon. Mario Chalmers, and Mike Miller have the best shot at making a positive contribution off the bench for Miami.

ADVANTAGE: 76ERS

Coaches

Miami: Erik Spoelstra

76ers: Doug Collins

Erik Spoelstra is still seen, by some, as one of the NBA’s young up-and-coming head coaches. He’s really dealt with a lot this season, all the drama surrounding the “big 3,” players crying in the locker room after losses, you know, the usual. The Heat seemed to have trouble early on, gelling wasn’t happening. I’m not sure if Spoelstra has had anything to do with the Heat finally turning it around, or was the talent level of the “big 3″ eventually going to come around? It’d be foolish not to give Spoelstra any credit, but coaching 3 of the leagues best players, in a city like Miami, ain’t the worst gig a guy could get.

Doug Collins has come back home, again. He’s helped make the Philadelphia 76ers franchise relevant, again, after a horrible season last year under Eddie Jordan. Collins has preached defense and taking care of the ball, he’s preached trust and accountability. Not to say Spoelstra hasn’t done any of these things, but let’s face it, they both have very different jobs and very different ways of handling their duties. What Collins has done in only one season, is down-right remarkable. He has his team believing, and belief can be a very powerful thing. Sometimes more powerful than a team motivated by expectations, like the Heat.

ADVANTAGE: 76ers

 

Final Prediction: HEAT in 5

I think this will be a series that 76ers fans can be proud of. You’ll see your team compete against one the Eastern Conference’s elite. I do believe the 76ers have the ability to steal at least one game. Talent wise, the 76ers just don’t match up, and eventually talent will take over this series. It will be an unfortunate end for the Sixers, but certainly something to build on.

Coming Later:  Some more analysis on tomorrow’s Game 1