Following the Game 3 defeat, everyone in America had written off the 7-6. Game 3 was the one they were suppose to win if they wanted any shot at shocking the Miami Heat in a first-round upset. But after losing Game 3, the Sixers’ motive and confidence should’ve been depleted for Game 4 and led to an easy sweep for the Miami Heat. Instead, the young Sixers came out re-energized and inspired.
Thanks to a succession of buckets from our young stars Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams to close out the game, we were able squeak a victory over South Beach’s finest. The Sixers know their outmatched, they understand their opposition is the better team. Yet, they still are fighting for their lives in an admiring fashion while not folding under the pressure of the spotlight.
Sound like any movie icon we know and love here in Philly?
Next on the agenda seems to be the most improbable task: A win in Miami to bring the game back to Philadelphia. The Heat will look at the game as a must win since their second round opposition, the Boston Celtics, awaits after sweeping through the New York Knicks. The last thing Erik Spoelstra’s club wants is a drawn out series with the Sixers as the Celtics pleasantly rest.
It’s critical for the Sixers to only worry about the do-or-die game that awaits them tonight. They can’t look at the big seven game series picture and must harness all their energy for the upcoming showdown. Focusing on the process and not the outcome is key. If they don’t, the series will end, as expected, in Miami.
I believe I speak for most of the Philadunkia crew when I say we don’t expect the 76ers to win. However, I do believe it’ll be closer than most expect. Here are five things that could put us over top for a shocking victory tonight:
1) Elton Brand must continue to produce
In the Game 2 debacle, Elton Brand was completely phased out of the offense. He took five shots, scored three points and was helpless as our club was smacked by 21 points in Miami. At home, he’s excelled scoring a combined 36 points on 14 of 26 attempts from the field while grabbing 22 rebounds. The Sixers should run the offense through him early on in the first, just like we’ve done all season long, and scoring opportunities will open up for everyone else.
2) Take care of the rock
It was a mini-spurt by the Heat but it sent a clear message. Midway through the second quarter, Miami double-teamed Jrue Holiday after he crossed midcourt. The double-team netted two crucial steals which led to a pair of dunks from Dwayne Wade and LeBronJames. Those transition dunks were part of a 12-0 run that closed the Sixers’ gap. Miami is desperately trying to force turnovers against a young backcourt whose taken good care of the basketball all season long (tied for league best 13.0 TPG).
3) Andre Iguodala
Defensively he’s taken on the improbable task of guarding LeBron. Unfortunately for AI9, his numbers offensively have taken a hit in the first three games of the series because of the exerted effort on defense. Game 4 was different though, finally the Sixers’ “stud ” generated some scoring hitting on five of 13 shots for 16 points.
4) Get the ball to Lou Williams in critical moments
Before Lou Williams hit his monumental trey to win the game with 8.1 seconds remaining, he demanded the basketball. The offense was stagnant and no one was moving. Evan Turner touched the ball, Jrue Holiday touched the ball and they tried to run half-ass pick-and-rolls. But as Evan Turner continued to dribble on the left-wing aimlessly, Lou-Will demanded the ball at the top of the key. ET fed him the rock and it resulted in one of the biggest shots of the NBA postseason. Lou can be a frustrating player to watch, but him taking the initiative to demand the ball with the game on the line speaks volumes. The guy wants the rock — you don’t see EB or AI9 demanding it — let’s get him the ball because we know he won’t shy away from a big moment.
5) Thaddeus Young and Jodie Meeks
Yesterday, Philadunkia scribe Tom Sunnergen highlighted the struggles of Thad in the last two contests. Very alarming considering his effectiveness in the first two games as he combined for 38 points and Miami struggled to contain his versatility.
Jodie Meeks on the other hand, has not had breakthrough game. Meeks hasn’t even surpassed the double-digit scoring mark during the series. I’ve been waiting for Meeks to blow up during all of April as he’s struggled to find his rhythm after a hot month in March.
My gut continues to tell me that Meeks is due for an outburst performance and the Sixers might need it from him to steal a second victory. It also wouldn’t hurt the Sixers cause if “Yungsmoove” returned to the form he displayed in Games 1 & 2.