Tag:Sixers-Heat
Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:04 am
Edited on: April 15, 2011 3:18 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference First Round Picks

The NBA playoffs are here. We've previewed the Eastern Conference. Now here are our picks along with the rest of the CBS NBA staff for you to mock or praise. Be gentle. 




Here are the EOB picks for the Eastern Conference, with a little 'splainin. Leave your picks below. 

8 Pacers vs. 1 Bulls

Ben Golliver: If Derrick Rose can walk on water and turn water into wine, surely he can overcome an average Indiana Pacers team that has no hope of stopping him. Of all the playoff series, this one probably has the greatest sweep potential, as the Bulls enter the series fully motivated because they need to establish their post-season reputation ASAP. There’s not a single match-up that truly favors Indiana. Prediction: Bulls in four.

Royce Young: Almost every matchup favors the Bulls as well as style of play. Indiana will play them hard and probably play them pretty close, but this has sweep written all over it. The Pacers won't do any sneaking up because of Granger's bulletin board material, so their best shot at stealing a game is gone. However, I'd like to think the Pacers will be excited enough to pull one off at home, just to treat the Indy fans. Prediction: Bulls in five.

Matt Moore: This should be a sweep. It really should. On the surface it has all the makings. But with the Bulls' offense able to dry up like it can, versus a young and versatile Pacers team with a top flight center and a good point guard, I think the Bulls wind up giving them the gentleman's sweep. It's still a sweep, but you give 'em one, to be polite. Prediction: Bulls in five.

Ken Berger: Roy Hibbert can make Derrick Rose think twice before driving to the rim, but the Bulls are too good defensively to allow Indiana to mount any sort of a challenge. This will be a test of how serious Chicago is about winning a championship. A matchup like this doesn't deserve any more than their minimum time investment. They'll need to get this over with quickly and get ready for the brutal battles ahead. Prediction: Bulls in four. 

7 Sixers vs. 2 Heat

Ken Berger: If this were the timid, confused, jump-shooting Heat team we saw earlier in the season, the Sixers would have a chance to make this interesting. But the way Miami is attacking the rim and scoring in the paint, this will be a quick and relatively painless path to the second round. Two things the Sixers have going for them: Lou Williams is back, giving them a boost off the bench, and they're one of the top 3-point-defending teams in the league. So there's that. Prediction: Heat in four.

Royce Young: The Sixers are long, fast, athletic and can run. The Heat are longer, faster, more athletic and run better. Not good for Philly. There is always a chance things could happen because I think there's a sincere uncertainty about exactly how the Heat will respond to playoff basketball, but Miami just has too much talent for the Sixers. Maybe they can win a game, which I think would be a victory. Prediction: Heat in four.

Ben Golliver: The Miami Heat have been up, down and all over the map this season, but they closed strong and draw a match-up against an overachieving 76ers group whose season will still be seen as a success if they get bounced quickly. Elton Brand will be a load, but everyone else is manageable, and Philly just doesn’t have the overall offensive chops to keep up with the triad. Prediction: Heat in five. 

Matt Moore:  I flipped on this prediction six times. I started out with your standard 2-2-2 6-game set. Then I went all wacky and went to a seven game series with fans and media talking about how terrible the Heat are, and could they lose in the first round. Then I walked it back to a sweep. Then back to a six-gamer. Then I thought maybe a gentleman's sweep (5 games, you give 'em one out of being polite). But I keep coming back to that Heat team that lost to mediocre team after mediocre team this season. Except Philly. Which either means the Sixers have no chance or they're due. I have absolute faith in Miami winnning. I just have no faith in them winning comfortably. Prediction: Heat in six. 

6 Knicks vs. 3 Celtics

Matt Moore: The Knicks take two games here because stars step up in the playoffs, and both Stoudemire and Anthony are huge stars. The Celtics are much better but still finding their way. The Knicks defense will show up for 1.5 games, and that plus their offense will land them two games. Anthony is not efficient, but he's going to have a field day with Pierce's defense. Billups will have one big game and so will some other random Knick. That will give them a false sense of hope in New York going forward. Should be entertaining. Prediction: Celtics in six.

Ben Golliver: Given how much the midseason trade for Anthony compromised New York’s depth, there’s a sense that the not yet fully formed Knicks are just happy to be in the post-season for the first time since 2003-2004. The Celtics, meanwhile, aren’t playing their best basketball but they do enter the post-season with a greater urgency, given the age and mentality of their core players. The Garnett/ Pierce/ Allen/ Rondo core has defeated far better all-around teams than this year’s Knicks, and a B- or better performance from Boston should be enough to see the Celtics through to the second round and a likely dream match-up with the Miami Heat. Prediction: Celtics in five. 

Ken Berger: Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony cancel each other out. Kevin Garnett and Amar'e Stoudemire cancel (and curse) each other out. Boston's gaping hole at center isn't a big deal, since the Knicks don't have a center, either. So this comes down to how well Ray Allen shoots the three-ball, and the point guard matchup. Rondo torched the Knicks during the regular season (though only one of those meetings was post-trade with all the regulars playing). Despite his late-season swoon, Rondo should be in full orchestration mode against the slower, older Chauncey Billups. One caveat here: While defense trumps offense in the playoffs, Melo and Amar'e are so scary good that if either one gets on a serious roll, it would change the complexion of the series. Prediction: Celtics in five. 

Royce Young: Back when the Melo trade finally happened, most people agreed: You don't want these Knicks in the playoffs -- they're dangerous. Are they though? Are they actually dangerous enough with two elite offensive players to push the Celtics? Depends on your definition of "push." I think the Knicks can win two games, but this is Boston's series. Prediction: Celtics in six. 

5 Hawks vs. 4 Magic

Royce Young:  Everyone is picking Orlando -- myself included -- but the Hawks actually won the season series 3-1. But that's being ignored because it's hard to forget what happened last postseason between these two teams. I get the feeling the Hawks are ready for this one and want to prove a little something, but the Magic are much better than they are. I feel seven games though for some reason. Prediction: Magic in seven.

Matt Moore: This series will actually be pretty interesting.  All the matchups point towards the Hawks being able to make a run and knock off the Magic. But we've seen this kind of situation with the Celtics versus the Heat last year. You have to trust the tested playoff team that's won before. Factor in the chance that Nelson steps up and Howard's ability to take over a game every now and then and the Magic are still the favorites, if for no other reason than their defense. Prediction: Magic in six.

Ben Golliver: For a capable,versatile, athletic group, the Atlanta Hawks sure are disappointing. They strike fear in the hearts of no one considering their heartless performance last season. Their uneven, often unmotivated, play under first year coach Larry Drew doesn’t bode well for avoiding a repeat of history. This year’s Magic are good – not great – but they have more than enough offensive firepower and the best player in the series, by a mile, in Dwight Howard. Prediction: Magic in four.

Ken Berger:  Atlanta won the season series 3-1, in large part because they kept Dwight Howard's damage to a minimum on the offensive end. Of the teams Orlando played four times this season, only Miami held Dwight to a lower scoring average. The Magic are on the short end of defensive mismatches at every spot except center, and even there, Jason Collins has done as good a job on Howard as anyone. So why am I picking Orlando? Because Howard will control the paint defensively and the glass, because the Magic are better-coached, and because the Hawks have been so inconsistent lately it's hard to figure out what they are. Also, there's not much home-court advantage in the ATL, and when things start going poorly for the Hawks, they get ugly quickly. Prediction: Magic in five. 
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Sixers-Heat Preview: It's another tequila sunrise

The 2011 NBA Eastern Conference First-Round Playoffs roll on as we take a look at Sixers-Heat
Posted by Matt Moore



I. Intro

The Sixers are a nice story. They really are. Doug Collins pulled this team up by the bootstraps and once it got done punching itself in the face, it came together. They're a solid defensive team with some speed and youth at key positions. Pesky might be the word. 

The Heat are the big story. We've seen them show flashes of brilliance, but those all came in-between prolonged periods of malaise and incoherence. Everyone wants to see if this team has that extra gear. It's assumed with great playoff teams. But this team doesn't have that experience, not together. How are they going to react to when the games start to matter? Will the sleeping giant awaken, or will the playoffs just prove to be yet another challenge the heat fail to pass with flying colors?

The Sixers are swamped in matchups thanks to the talent on the Heat , which is going to make tactical decisions that much more important. The Heat need to look great to get some confidence. The Sixers just need to hang. 

II. What Happened: A Look at the Season Series

The Heat crushed them. I mean, killed them. It was a slaughter. The Heat averaged a 109.2 offensive efficiency and allowed just a 98.3. That's pretty impressive for the Heat/terrible for the Sixers on both sides of the ball. They outscored the Sixers by an average of 10.3 points, and shot 47 percent. 

There is some context, though, here. The Sixers had a horrific start to the season, and two of the games in the season series were during that span. The third game was in late March when the Heat were at their strongest and the Sixers were cooling down.  So we haven't really seen the Heat play the Sixers except when the Sixers were a mess. Philadelphia did manage its closest efficiency differential in the second game, when they were starting to figure things out, losing by just nine. All in all, the Heat definitely have the upper hand in this matchup, but the first glance doesn't tell you everything you need to know. 

III. The Easy Stuff: Dwyane Wade is a problem

Wade averaged 25.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists this season overall. Against Philadelphia, he averaged 30.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. That's a one-man wrecking crew. The Sixers have no one to guard him, in reality. Not without going into a flex-big lineup with both Iguodala and Young on the floor, but that rotation hasn't played much together this season. The Sixers did use that lineup in the three games agianst the Heat, but that was really where Wade killed them. 

Looking at the Game Flows from Popcornmachine.net , the Sixers had their worst problems with Wade when Lou Williams was guarding him. This is problematic, as Williams is their truest shooting guard with any scoring impact. Jodie Meeks on the other hand held Wade to his two lowest-impact quarters. Even rookie Evan Turner did decent work against him. Andres Nocioni should not see any floor time in this series, but you probably knew that. He will. 

Wade's a stellar player, but his biggest game was a 39 point effort in March. In that game, his two biggest quarters were the 2nd and 4th, where he dropped 37 of his 39 points. In those two quarters, Meeks played just under eight minutes total. Meeks needs to be central part of the Sixers' defensive design or Wade's going to slice them into little tiny pieces and eat them with Sriracha. 

III. Secret of the Series: Help, (the Sixers) need somebody, help, not just any body

According to Synergy Sports, in the Sixers' best effort against the Heat, Philadelphia brought help or committed to the ball handler on the pick and role 22 of 29 times, or 76 percent. In their other losses, the Sixers only brought help 29 of 52 times, or 56 percent of the time.  In the Sixers' best effort against Miami, the Heat ran 28 Isolation plays, versus 34 combined in the other two games. You getting the pattern? This sounds simple, make the Heat get out of their offense, right? 

But what it means is that the Sixers need to commit to help defense, even if it exposes them to open jumpers. If they bring help on pick and rolls and on James and Wade in Isolation, that means there will be jump-passes to wide open threes from Mike Bibby, James Jones, Mike Miller, and Mario Chalmers. Fine. You live with that. The Sixers don't need to have a Celtics-like commitment to defensie principles. If they make mistakes in over-helping that leaves them unable to rotate, that's fine. Just keep the Triad in front of them. Making mistakes are fine as long as they're the right mistakes. The Sixers' offense is going to struggle. There's just no way around it. The Sixers' best shot is making the game into a defensive grind, keeping it close or making a late run to make it close, then try and push for transition buckets off of Heat miscommunication. 

But to do that they have to bring help, a lot of of help. 


IV. The Dinosaur Narrative: "WILL LeBron James WILT IN THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN?"

Last year's playoff series still lingers in people's minds. They remember the way James appeared to capitulate to the Celtics, to abandon his team. So now he's been branded with this narrative. 

The Sixers are not the Celtics. And furthermore, it's not like James has never won a playoff series. He's got a strong history of success in the playoffs, albeit without the "biggest" of series, which is always the last one you play. But trying to extrapolate James' struggles against the best defense in the NBA over the past three years into a narrative about his relative success is overblown. We're not talking Tracy McGrady, here. James has done his fair share of blowing first-round teams off the map, and the Sixers are likely to be next.  V. The Line-Item Veto: Who has control in each matchup? Quick, line by line. Ex. SG: Dwyane Wade versus Jodie Meeks isn't really fair. Meks has good length but Wade is just... Wade.

VI. The Line-Item Veto: Who wins each matchup?

PG: This could be Jrue Holiday's coming-out party. Bibby's not nearly fast enough to stick him, and Chalmers isn't aware enough to watch him off-ball. Problem will arise when the Heat go no-point, and he has to defend Wade. Doug Collins will be making a lot of subs in this series. 

SG: We already talked about how Meeks can have an impact on this series. But c'mon. It's Dwyane freaking Wade and he dropped 30 per game on this team. 

SF: Andre Igoudala seems like a really nice guy, doesn't he? Great leader for Team USA this weekend. /whistles ... It's LeBron.

PF: Split. Bosh is better offensively, but Elton Brand may eat him alive on the boards. If Brand goes way-back-machine mode, the Heat may have to send help. That starts trouble for the Heat, even as mediocre as the Sixers are from the perimeter (15th in 3-point percentage). 

C: Doesn't this feel like a matchup where both teams fans are going to look at the other center and go "Man, I wish we had that guy!" only neither center is really good? Hawes gets the edge here, but if Joel Anthony keeps playing like he has lately, he might get the push.

Bench: Sixers win this one strong. Thaddeus Young has been a sixth-man of the year candidate, and the Sixers have the fourth best bench in the league, according to Hoopsstats.com .

Coach:  Well, considering Doug Collins is a Coach of the Year candidate and Erik Spoelstra had to put a marker on his parkig spot to make sure no one took it before he was canned, I think we're going to give Collins the advantage here. 


VII. Conclusion

There's not a tougher series to peg. Know why? You know what to expect out of every team in the playoffs except Miami. Denver may be outmatched, but they'll bring it. The Pacers are out of their league, but they won't just roll over and die. The Celtics are in disarray, but you know they'll be mentally ready. Same with the Lakers. Miami? They could sink the Sixers' battleship in the first game and never let them recover. They could lose the first game. They could start strong then get lazy. There's just no way of predicting this team's effort game-to-game. 

I flipped on this prediction six times. I started out with your standard 2-2-2 6-game set. Then I went all wacky and went to a seven game series with fans and media talking about how terrible the Heat are, and could they lose in the first round. Then I walked it back to a sweep. Then back to a six-gamer. Then I thought maybe a gentleman's sweep (5 games, you give 'em one out of being polite). But I keep coming back to that Heat team that lost to mediocre team after mediocre team this season. Except Philly. Which either means the Sixers have no chance or they're due. I have absolute faith in Miami winnning. I just have no faith in them winning comfortably. Prediction: Heat in 6.

VIII. CBSSports.com Video Preview

Can the Philadelphia 76ers contend with the all-star talent on the Miami Heat when they face off in round 1 of the NBA Playoffs? Ian Eagle and Ken Berger breakdown this upcoming playoff matchup.

Posted on: April 14, 2011 9:20 am
Edited on: April 14, 2011 9:27 am
 

Eastern Playoffs LiveChat today at 2 p.m. EST

We'll be chatting Eastern Conference Playoffs this afternoon at 2 p.m. EST. We'll break down each matchup and take your questions and comments. You should swing by and argue for why your team will win its series. I'm sure no one will disagree with you. Especially if you live in the Northeast. 2 p.m. EST here on EOB. 


Posted on: April 13, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 2:28 am
 

2011 NBA Playoff Matchups Set Wednesday

Final playoff positioning following Wednesday night's games. 
Posted by Matt Moore




All playoff matchups are set following Wednesday night's games. We've got our 16 teams seeded.
Eastern Conference:

The East is locked. For more analysis on the East, check out our discussion from Tuesday

1 Chicago vs. 8 Indiana
2 Miami vs. 7 Philadelphia
3 Boston vs. 6 New York
4 Orlando vs. 5 Atlanta


Western Conference

1 San Antonio vs. 8 Memphis
2 Los Angeles Lakers vs. 7 New Orleans
3 Dallas vs. 6 Portland
4 Oklahoma City vs. 5 Denver

The Mavericks' win over the Hornets locked Oklahoma City into the 4 seed, they'll face Denver. A Lakers win over Sacramento gets them the 2. The Hornets loss doesn't really matter, since it all came down to Memphis. Memphis t anked against the Clippers to get to the 8 spot. Memphis to the 8. The Hornets wind up 7th. 

Meanwhile, the Spurs' tank squad lost to Phoenix . Chicago finishes with the best overall record and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, including the Finals should they advance that far. Again, something that could come back to bite a tanking team. 

Some quick thoughts, as our series previews start tomorrow: 

Grizzlies-Spurs: Memphis may have made a brilliant manuever or doomed themselves. Manu Ginobili was injured Wednesday night, and if he's out, the Grizzlies might push the Spurs a bit. But they also ended the season in pathetic fashion, even for a tanking team. If that carries over, this could be over quickly. 

Hornets-Lakers: This is going to be short, violent, and brutal. I'll let you figure out how. Worst matchup for the underdog. 

Blazers-Mavericks: Portland fans wanted this matchup. We'll see if it works out for them. There are some good things here for Portland. If Dallas doesn't hit another gear, they could get rolled in the first round. Again. 

Nuggets-Thunder: This does not look like a great matchup on the surface for Denver. They'll have to get together and play the series of their lives, but against an inexperienced Thunder team, there's some possibility here. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com