Game One told us what we already knew. The Sixers are good enough to compete with the switch-flipping talent of the Miami Heat, but not good enough to contain them. They couldn't hold onto an early lead and wasted opportunities that would have closed the gap earlier. The refs were a point of contention between fans and media, but ultimately didn't decide the outcome of the first game.
None of this should come as a surprise. In fact, it's like a very predictable movie that we've all watched too many times with these Sixers or any variation of them. So how can this team deviate from the script, pull a deus ex machina, and actually grab a win from Miami?
Attack the Basket
Too often the Sixers settle for jump shots. They're not a jump shooting team. Though they had more shots at the rim than Miami in game one, when you add the times they got fouled inside, Miami was the aggressor. Thaddeus Young took 4 shots outside of 16 feet. At least one of them was at the end of the shot clock, but the other three are wasted possessions. His outside shot has been completely miserable all season long, since he committed to being an inside player. He's probably got the quickest first step on the team and, being a lefty, should be able to get to the rim and get fouled relatively easy against the Heat big men.
Once the Heat switched to zone, as Derek will tell us tomorrow morning (stay tuned!), the Sixers lost all momentum and settled for taking a ton of time off the shot clock and putting up ugly shots. Switching from man to zone shouldn't have an effect on whether or not they get to the basket. Find holes, look backdoor, and get open shots off the drive. Put pressure on Miami to make a switch and put pressure on the refs to make a call on a strong take to the basket.
Yell into Dwyane Wade's Ear
Stay out of Foul Trouble
Part of me thinks that Spencer Hawes getting two early fouls was a big reason the Heat came back so quickly. The other part of me doesn't think Spence matters as much as I think he does. When he's on, he's got a quickness advantage over Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a height advantage on Joel Anthony. He's better than Marreese Speights and Elton Brand controlling the defensive glass, so if he stays in the game, there will be less offensive rebounds and putbacks, which seemed to happen every other possession in game one.
Thad and Elton were also close to foul trouble, which would render this team basically useless. It's harder against guys like James and Wade, but they've got to limit the unnecessary fouls. The free throw advantage doesn't help things either.
This one is pretty obvious. Not Turner (Andres Nocioni) missed a couple wide open looks and Brand had himself a chance to give the Sixers a late lead but missed. Can't waste these opportunities. Gotta make them pay for their mistakes.
As we've said, everything has to go right to beat this team. But if they can steal a game on the road, they'll have such a huge advantage going back to the Wells Fargo Center for 3 and 4, where they have a 63% win percentage. It's a whole lot of If's, but all we need is an opening. For inspiration, see below.