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Tag:2011 Sixers-Heat
Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:56 am
Edited on: April 19, 2011 2:14 am
 

NBA Playoffs Sixers-Heat: The trap of dominance

The Heat are rolling while the Bulls are struggling. But which is in a better position in the long run?
Posted by Matt Moore




Alright. We hate to bury the Sixers before the heart stops beating, because it's entirely possible they put together a much better effort in games 3 and 4 to even the series. But they certainly look outmatched in the first two meetings. The Sixers pushed the Heat a bit in the first meeting before the Heat responded with a fury. There was no such response in Game 2 , as the Heat clobbered them beyond all reason. And since this is a 2-7 matchup, even with the craziness of the opening weekend of the NBA, we can look ahead just a bit from the first round and ask the question.

Is this really what's best for the Heat? A total roll-over?

While the Lakers and Spurs are dropping their first playoff games to lower seeds and the Bulls are struggling through a much tougher series than the No. 1 seed should, the Miami Heat ran away from the Sixers. The Sixers hung tough for the first quarter and sustained a fourth quarter rally. Other than that? It's been nothing but the Triad show, and the Triad show has been impressive. A sweep seems more likely for the Heat than any alternative. So what does it mean? 

It means that, should the Bulls win two more games, and the Celtics three more, that the Heat will have two battle-tested teams between them and the Finals. But the Heat will be riding the same thing that carried them into the season: hype. It seems counter-intuitive to suggest that losing is better than winning. And it's not. Winning close is better than losing. The Bulls aren't doubting themselves right now. They're feeling good about being halfway out of the first round. Sure, there are things to work on. But the Bulls also had to work to get the two wins they've gotten in the first two games of the playoffs. And that's the result. They worked hard, and as a result, they don't have a loss in the playoffs. This isn't to say that the Heat haven't worked hard. Surely, blowing out the Sixers in such a way as to make the team quit and turn a playoff game into a horrendously boring affair by the middle of the third frame takes a bit of effort. But there's a difference between having to match a team who has the playoff gear, testing you, forcing you to scrap for every point and to rise comebacks, and playing up the score like it's a video game set on "easy." 

The Heat also can't determine who they play. They can't swap with the Bulls (though I'm sure the Bulls would take them up on that for a stretch). They can only beat the team in front of them with the best effort they can muster. And in that regard, they're outperforming the Bulls. But the Bulls will learn things emotionally and mentally against the Pacers. They'll find or remember the gear and intensity of a close playoff series. The Celtics will find the same in a tough series against the Knicks. The Heat? They'll start to buy into themselves, just like Orlando did last year and the Cavaliers before that. And if there's one thing that's shown to undo this team, it's the comfort of destroying softer teams and the stark contrast between those contests and the battles they'll face against great teams. 

The Heat could use a stiff test to show that they can close; like the Celtics and Bulls have. It's the bizarre situation where the Heat could finally benefit from not looking like the greatest team in the league. Typical. Even when the Heat win, they don't win. 




Posted on: April 18, 2011 10:48 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:10 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Sixers-Heat: LeBron > Philly

LeBron James > Entire Philadelphia Starting 5
Posted by Matt Moore




LeBron James: 29 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists. 

Philadelphia 76ers starting five: 29 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists. 

And that's pretty much all you need to know. James matched the point totals of the entire Philly starting five, and he only played 38 minutes. James scored those 29 points on 19 shots. The Philadelphia starting five scored 29 points on 35 shots. James shot 10 free throws. Philly's starting five shot 8. 

Yeah, it was one of those. 94-73, Miami .

The totals for James are nothing absurd, which says a lot about a. the level of production from James and the other elite players in the league, and b. how truly horrendously awful the Sixers were against a Heat defense. That defense, by the way, that was made to look championship worthy by Philadelphia's never-ending stream of contested mid-range jumpers, blown layups and poor decisions. The Heat maintained position, brought help, and closed off everything inside for the Sixers, who died on the vine. 

James, meanwhile, rarely if ever saw help defense, bulldozed his way past it when it was brought, had the mid-range jumper game working, drew his usual number of fouls and created opportunities in transition. It was the kind of game you'd expect from James in the first round, and it absolutely choked the life out of the Sixers. Andre Iguodala still couldn't match his moves, Thaddeus Young couldn't stop his speed, Jodie Meeks couldn't hang with his size. James is a bad matchup for everyone in the league. He's especially bad for the Sixers. Check the shot chart:




For more on the game, check out the GameTracker.  

This was one of those nights where James had the jumper working. When he's at that level, there's just not much you can do. You have to play back because of his physical abilities, which the Sixers tried at different times, bringing help under the screen. And, when they did, James simply stepped back and nailed the pull-up. He had one ridiculous, unnecessary 3-pointer in the third that kind of sealed the deal, but really, he could simply dominate the game from where he wanted. There wasn't much to be done. 
Most notable were the Philadelphia guards trying to play a slow, grind-it-out game instead of pushing it in transition, backing off of fast-breaks and letting the Heat's defense even further entrench themselves. The Heat killed them, the Sixers killed themselves, and the combination of both means the Sixers can see their playoff pulse starting to fade. 

The 76ers offense probably won't miss as many layups, and easy ones, again (and, hopefully, Doug Collins will take the next mid-range jumpshooter and beat him with some sort of wooden club). But the message has been sent. The Heat are in total control of this series, and it'll take a drastic change in stratagem, lineups or emotion for Philadelphia to claw back in during the two-game set at home.

Otherwise, the Heat will have time to rest up before the next round begins. 
Posted on: April 18, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 4:46 pm
 

Series Reset: Sixers have a chance

We reset the Sixers-Heat series as Game 2 approaches. Can the Sixers get over the hump instead of just challenging?
Posted by Matt Moore

The Narrative: What, an Eastern favorite didn't need a game winner to close out their first game in the first round? Crazy talk!  The Heat just kind of took care of business after a shaky start and then busted down a Sixers charge. Feisty is probably the worse for the Sixers right now, but if you don't win, that doesn't translate to much. Game 1 pretty much established we're likely not going to see a blowout series, but also that the Sixers are outmatched.

The Hook: So what's that mean going forward? It means the Sixers have a chance. They're overmatched, yes, but not to the degree they can't be competitive in the series. The key for them is going to be effort. When you don't have the talent edge, you have to rely on a supreme effort. Without that, the Sixers are just trying to match up, which they can't. But with the Heat feeling confident, even after a close win in Game 1, there might be room for an upset. Getting a big head start again is key, just as much as keeping it. 

The Adjustment: Who to help? Chris Bosh kiled the Sixers in Game 1 with 25 points. So do you bring help on Bosh and leave yourself open to damage from Wade and James? Or do you sacrifice open looks for the Heat shooters? The answer is the latter, obviously. The best strategy against the Heat is to focus all the energy on whichever of the Triad is hot and hope the sub-par support players on the Heat choke themselves out. 

The X-Factor: Thadeus Young. Young was downright relentless in Game 1, and especially in the fourth quarter. The Heat primarily tried guarding him with Chris Bosh and James Jones. It did not work. As problematic as Andre Iguodala can be for the Heat, they may want to keep LeBron James on Young and stick Wade on Iguodala. 

The Sticking Point: According to Synergy Sports, the Sixers ran seven transition plays in the first quarter. They only had eight opportunities the rest of the game. If the Sixers want a chance to make this competitive, they have to keep pushing the ball. They can't count on turnovers, so it's going to take Jrue Holiday setting the tone. The Heat have no one to check Holiday without exposing themselves to significant risk, so the Sixers have to make them pay. If they let the Heat grind the game down and stretch it out, they're going to get worn down into four losses and an early exit. 
Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Ranking the NBA Playoffs opening weekend games

Ranking the Game 1s in an epic opening weekend of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. 
Posted by Matt Moore




What a weekend, huh? The NBA's first round is often looked at with a "ho-hum" response most years. Not in 2011. The opening weekend we had three upsets, two near-upsets, and the other three games were close right down to the finish. It may have been the best opening weekend of the playoffs in league history. So we thought we'd look back and rank the eight Game 1s on a level of awesomeness. 

8. Miami 97 Philadelphia 89: Leave it to the Heat to give us the least interesting game of the weekend. It says a lot that the worst game of the weekend was one in which the 7th seed lead after the first quarter and made a serious run in the 4th before falling to the power of Wade. This one suffered from letdown, having to follow the Pacers-Bulls insanity of the opening game, and with the Heat grinding out a tough one against a feisty Sixers team, the playoff intensity didn't really shine through, no matter how much Chris Bosh (rightfully) yelled. 

7. Atlanta 103 Orlando 93: Again, how amazing is it when a game where Dwight Howard scores 45 points isn't even in the top half of the games? Howard was incredible, and watching the Hawks' energy was really infectious, but the game itself wasn't as compelling. The Magic's shooting, combined with the Hawks casual dominance, was enough to overcome the thrill factor of watching Howard dominate in what would have been a classic performance. This series looks like it might be mighty interesting overall, but matched up against the insanity of the top, it didn't hold. 

6. Dallas 89 Portland 81: A good game of runs, featuring a furious fourth quarter comeback by the Mavs behind a vintage Dirk Nowitzki clutch performance. The Blazers had about fifty alley-oops in this one, and the game featured a Jason Kidd 3-point barrage for crying out loud. It had everything you look for in a classic, right down to a series of questionable calls that will probably get the visiting coach fined for his post-game comments. The Mavericks hang on, but everyone has to think this is going to be a long, great series based off of Game 1. 

5. New Orleans 109 Los Angeles 100: The defending champs, the second seed in the West, falls to a seventh seed team without its second best player behind one of the best point guard performances in recent history, and it's not even in the top half. This one would have been higher if the Lakers had made any effort whatsoever. They did not. A truly pathetic defensive effort individually, systemically, categorically from the Lakers. It was exciting due to the Hornets pulling off a huge upset. But the game itself was a massive conglomeration of defensive fail by the Lakers. Now, if we're ranking top performances of the Game 1s? Paul's got a case for the top spot. 

4. Oklahoma City 107 Denver 103: Maybe the best played game of the opening weekend. It was an offensive slugfest where every time a team thought they had made the play to put the other one away, the opponent would respond. An incredible effort from Kevin Durant (41 points, 9 rebounds) who was simply unstoppable, and a heroic game from Nene, fighting off a knee injury to nearly push the Nuggets to the win. It came down to a series of tough, tough shots from the Thunder and a questionable non-call. If it weren't for the drama of the top three, this would have easily taken the top spot. 

3. Memphis 101 San Antonio 98: The 8th seed gets a win versus the top seed in the West, earning their first ever franchise win with a Shane Battier 3-pointer and a last second miss from Richard Jefferson.  The actual game featured a ton of free throws, but it also featured scrappy play, great aggression on the perimeter, vintage Tim Duncan, and brilliant interior offense from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The world didn't know who the Grizzlies were on Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon they had a pretty good look. 

2. Chicago 104 Indiana 99: The team with the worst record in the playoffs leads all the way until the very end, when the presumptive MVP leads a furious 16-1 comeback run capped off by a drive-and-kick assist to the little-known crack 3-point assassin for the win, destroying what would have been one of the biggest Game 1 upsets in history. What more can you say about Derrick Rose? What more can you say about how heartbreaking the game was for the Pacers? What more can you ask for in the first game of an incredible weekend? The Bulls' defensive effort was severely lacking, the Pacers' offense was impressively on target. It had all the makings of a magical upset. And yet the cliches come a-running in. Big-time players make big-time plays. Derrick Rose made the plays. 

1. Boston 87 New York 85: I assure you this isn't big-market bias. You can check my zipcode if you want proof of that. This game had everything. The juggernaut struggling to get its feet under it. The impressive upset bid from the upstart New York team. The defending Eastern Conference champs buckling down and doing what they do best, creating opportunities for borderline calls and turnovers, then crunching down on shooting percentages. Amar'e Stoudemire takes KG to the rack. The twisting layup. Toney Douglas' step-back 3-pointer. And of course, Ray Allen, Ray Allen, Ray Allen. Throw in the dramatics of Carmelo Anthony's failures and how close the Knicks came towards that big step forward and you've got the best Game 1 in a weekend full of them. 

Let us know where we screwed up in the comments. 
Posted on: April 18, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 4:16 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Buzz 4.18.11: Wade's status and more

Posted by Matt Moore
  • Roddy Beaubois' status for Game 2 is still up in the air. He shot at practice for the Mavs Monday, but it's unknown as to if he will play. Caron Butler, who has really focused on getting back for the postseason, has expanded his workouts to more intense shooting but it's still unclear as to if he'll be able to make a return this postseason.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:30 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:46 am
 

NBA Playoffs First Round Saturday Wrap-Up

Click on each photo for our coverage on Saturday's first-round playoff games. 





Posted on: April 17, 2011 12:22 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:29 am
 

NBA Playoffs Sixers-Heat: How Bosh got it done

Chris Bosh takes advantage of what should always have been his role with the Heat: cleaning up after the attention on Wade and James. 
Posted by Matt Moore
Chris Bosh does not have the same fanfare and attention that his two superstar teammates -- LeBron James and Dwyane Wade -- possess.

And while James, a two-time league MVP, and Wade, a former NBA Finals MVP, will have a bright spotlight cast upon them throughout their first playoff experience together as teammates, they both know that Bosh, a six-time All-Star, will need to play at a high level if the Heat are going to be holding the championship trophy come June.

"C.B. is the most important player on our team," said James following the Heat's 97-89 win over the 76ers in Game 1. "When C.B. plays aggressive, when C.B. shoots the ball well, and when he rebounds, we are a very, very, very good team."
via Bosh's play could be determining factor in Heat's playoff run - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball .

More on 76ers at Heat
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Chris Bosh was key in the Heat's victory over the Sixers, and while he's caught the most criticism as a member of the Triad this season, he also holds huge potential to turn them into an entirely different team. Perhaps most interesting about his 25-point, 12-rebound performance against the Sixers Saturday was that his production came so much as an auxilliary player. In essence, it was more what the Heat had planned when they got together this summer. 

The idea was that with three of the top ten (at the time, five, but, let's be honest, not so much in retrospect) players in the league, the Heat would always have someone open. But their inability to create space or work in tandem effectively meant instead it was three great players going ISO a lot. Against the Sixers, Philadelphia keyed on James and Wade. The result was Bosh getting lots of looks off-ball.

Bosh scored six points on seven possessions in the post, but four of those came on drawn fouls. He put back two offensive rebounds, created both times by attention caused by James and Wade. He scored seven points on seven possessions in the pick and roll, and this was his bread and butter. Twice he benefited from a pick-and-pop situation involving someone other than himself as the screener. When James or Wade came off the pick, the defense hedged hard on them, opening up the screen man, and driving the defense to rotate to that man. Bosh would then leak out. Twice he got open looks on account of this set.

Sounds stunning, right? Hey, let's use the third best player on the team who is a top power-forward in this league and use him to get easy buckets considering he can score from anywhere! Magic! But this is the kind of play that eluded the Heat all season. Getting it going against the Sixers is a step towards getting themselves in a position to compete in the second round against (presumably) Boston. While the Heat offense was far from its best against a feisty Sixers team, it was good enough to show what it's capable of. 

Bosh drew fouls, worked off-ball, hit the glass (which cannot be emphasized enough), and helped the Heat walk away with a win. If the defense is forced to account for Bosh, that's going to create more opportunities for Wade and James. As long as the reserve players can provide anything, literally anything, the Heat are on track for where they want to go offensively in the playoffs. 


Posted on: April 16, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2011 8:52 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Sixers-Heat: Miami grinds it out


Posted by Matt Moore




And again, the underdog nearly pulls it off, but comes up short . The Sixers started hot against the Heat. Then, the Heat slowly chipped away, chipped away, and took over. It looked like an easy win for the Heat when they were up 11 with 5:57 to play. By the 2:26 mark, it was a one-point game. The Sixers made a late run, keyed by Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday, working inside and out, but couldn't close. Then, Wade did this fun thing .

More on 76ers at Heat
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If we're trying to find a real theme in this game, it comes from this. The Heat turned this game into a slugfest. Slowed it down to a snail's pace and ground it out. The Sixers shot 42 percent from the field, but had an effective field goal percentage (factoring 3-point attempts) of 45.8 percent. That's bad, but still better than the Heat. And that was a big part of how they hung around. The reality is that, for a team that relies so much on transition, buckets and speed, the Heat turned into a slow-it-down, brutalize-it club. And that was their biggest success against Philadelphia. When the Sixers got in transition and sped the game up, they had considerably more success. Factor in Chris Bosh's 25 points and 12 rebounds and that's the model for a Heat win. 

Defensively for the Sixers, there has to be more help and it has to come before the point of attack. The Sixers gave up 39 free throws (as opposed to the fifteen they managed). Philadelphia gave up fouls on nearly 19% of all possessions for Miami. Some of that's star calls, sure. But that doesn't change it from being something Philly has to respond to. There needs to be more communication defensively to help out on possessions, especially when James is leading. 

The Heat were not efficient in this game, outside of creating free throws (which is, in itself, efficient, but bear with me). Their three leading scorers (the Triad) shot 41 percent from the field. On the one hand, you have to say the Sixers won't be lucky enough to run into that bad of a shooting performance across the board. On the other, the Heat have to convert more opportunities. This was a solid win that the Heat had control of for 3.25 quarters. But it was also a game in which they left the door open. 

That said, if the Heat's defense maintains its intensity for the entire game, Philadelphia's options become more and more limited. 

Notes: 

  • Somewhere in the back of their minds, the Heat coaching staff has to be concerned about the work of Jrue Holiday (19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists).  Point guard is a soft spot for the Heat defensively, and Holiday has a higher ceiling than he showed Saturday. 
  • On the flip side, Philadelphia has to be terrified about Spencer Hawes. The Heat do not have strong center play and Hawes was totally overwhelmed in a limited 13 minutes. He shot selectively and efficiently but was unable to work well on the glass. 
  • Andres Nocioni should not play. He's too much of a liability in this series. 
  • Jodie Meeks did a great job in the first half against Dwyane Wade. Later, when switched against LeBron James, he was overmatched. Which isn't surprisingly. It's confusing that Collins would go that route. 
  • Late in the game, LeBron James largely played a "spy linebacker" position; waiting low to block whoever came to the paint. It was frightening to see him in that kind of lurking role. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com