This Friday edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games — features tonight’s opponent, the Miami Heat (31-11), who currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference..
We actually debated not writing a preview of tonight’s game down at the Wells Fargo Center vs. the Heat. The reason for our hesitation – we questioned whether or not this run against Miami is a “big” or “key” game on the schedule. Yes the Sixers are ballin against the Heat — arguably one of the, if not the best team in the NBA — tonight. So obviously this is a highly anticipated contest in Philadunkia nation and there will be a packed house tonight down on Broad Street.
But from a basketball perspective, we still wonder if this is a “key” game for the 7-6. That debate stems from the fact that the Heat are clearly a better team then the Sixers and have the 76ers “number” as they say. Anyone who watched these two squads battle during last year’s playoffs and on two occasions earlier this season, should have come to this realization by now. And please don’t give us the, “But now Evan Turner is starting.” line either. While Turner has given Philadunkia’s home team a huge boost, ET’s recent stellar play wasn’t enough to down the hot shooting Pacers Wednesday night and it certainly won’t be the answer for the Sixers in their efforts to finally overcome the Heat tonight.
Now take the above items we already know about the mighty Heat and throw in the fact that tonight Wade, Lebron & Co. come into the WFC angry after their unexpected loss in Chicago on Wednesday night to the D-Rose-less Bulls and the Sixers chances of winning this game get even smaller. (FYI…back on February 3rd, the Heat came into Philly off a loss @ MIL and simply dismantled the Sixers, 99-79. Thanks for that CHI & MIL.)
So our advice is to just sit back and enjoy this game tonight between two defensive minded and athletically gifted teams that like to get out on the break and play above the rim. If the Sixers somehow manage to hijack a W tonight then rejoice in the huge upset. Should they lose yet another one to the Heat, then simply shrug off the L, pop open a cold one and turn your attention to the NCAA Tourney, because tonight is not a make or break / “key” / measuring stick game for the 76ers and thus yet another L to the Heat should not cause you any stress.
For a little more insight into the Heat team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Tom Haberstroh at ESPN.com’s Heat Index to answer four questions on Miami from us here at Philadunkia.
Philadunkia: We only saw bits and pieces of the Miami game Wednesday night, so can you give us the inside scoop on what happened during the Heat’s loss in Chicago?
Tom Haberstroh @ ESPN.com’s Heat Index: Everyone not named “Dwyane Wade” or “LeBron James” forgot how to play basketball. That won’t last long. Chris Bosh endured one of the worst games of his season and the Heat simply couldn’t get any production out of their supporting cast. They miss Mike Miller, who has provided steady 3-point shooting off the bench, but they needed more from Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers too. Also? Rebounding. They couldn’t get a board on that Chicago frontline.
Philadunkia: Were you surprised the Heat did not make a move at the trade deadline?
Tom Haberstroh @ ESPN.com’s Heat Index: Major moves? No, not surprised. Roster tweaks? Yes, a little bit surprised. The Heat had been playing youngster Dexter Pittman for bigger minutes recently perhaps as an audition for potential suitors, but alas, there was no deal to be had. When you’re favorites to win the title, even a roster tweak might be too much of a risk so I’m not too surprised that they didn’t deal for at least a warm body underneath. James Jones is dispensable on the wing, but the Heat really don’t have much in the way of assets to make a deal worthwhile for anyone.
Philadunkia: Any concern tonight on the Heat’s part about the suddenly hot Evan Turner?
Tom Haberstroh @ ESPN.com’s Heat Index: Not with Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier and LeBron James on the team. If the Heat didn’t have a premier perimeter defender, then maybe they’d be sweating Turner’s resurgence, but they’re confident in their abilities on the wing. They’ll be prepared for a player like Turner. I think it’ll be closer to the 8-point output we saw from Turner last time out, rather than the 21-point outing on Wednesday.
Philadunkia: For the second straight time, Miami is coming into Philly off a disappointing road loss. I am sure the Heat will play “angry” again as they did back on February 3rd. Any chance the Sixers can use that t their advantage and pull off an upset?
Tom Haberstroh @ ESPN.com’s Heat Index: Oh, sure. The Heat look pretty vulnerable right now and the Sixers are good enough that I’d have a problem calling it anything close to a Cinderella upset. One thing working in the Sixers’ favor is the return of Spencer Hawes. The Heat don’t want to see big, skilled bodies anymore and Hawes can put a dent into the Heat’s frontline. I’m not a believer in “momentum” but the Sixers have as good a chance to beat the Heat on Friday night as they could expect.