In basketball, you only go as far in the playoffs as your guards take you. But at the same time, you can't win anything unless you win the battle inside. Counter that with the idea that defense wins championships. But don't forget that good defense leads to great offense.
What do all of these adages tell us? Nothing.
Great teams win championships when they have great players on them and, typically, when they outscore the other team regularly. So we won't be breaking it into big guys and small guys or anything like that, because it's less important than team offense and team defense . Guard play or big men -- it doesn't matter. You win by being the better team, categories and labels play much less of a role than they're made out to. And on that note, let's get to it.
Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers on Jrue Holiday
Dwyane Wade on Jodie Meeks
LeBron James on Andre Iguodala
Chris Bosh on Elton Brand
Erick Dampier/Joel Anthony on Spencer Hawes
Heat defense - 94.6 ppg (6th), 103.5 rtg (5th), 5th ranked defense
76ers offense - 99.0 ppg (18th), 106.6 rtg (17th), 17th ranked offense
If you go by the season, the Heat's defense should be able to control the Sixers' relatively tame offensive firepower. Holding the Sixers to point totals of 87, 90, and 99 in each of their three wins, Miami did a great job limiting second chance points and keeping the Sixers away from the free throw line, something they don't do at a high rate anyway. And since Philly wasn't shooting lights out in any of the three games, the offense never had Spoelstra and the Big Three sputtering. Of the 12 quarters that were played, the Sixers scored less than 20 in four of them.
Simply put, the Sixers won't win a game in this series if they don't shoot the ball well. They'll need to take a good chunk of time off the shot clock in the half court sets and, when they get the chance, get out in the fast break for a few easy transition buckets. The Heat will expect a lot of break-your-man-down basketball because they're not scared of anyone on the Sixers hitting an outside shot except for Jodie. Moving the ball around the perimeter and finding slashers off the pick-and-roll and in the backdoor will be key to making Miami work and expend energy on the defensive end.
It's common knowledge that the Sixers are one of worst teams in the playoffs at drawing fouls and getting to the line, while the Heat are closer to the top. If they can draw some fouls, get LeBron/Wade/Bosh into a spot of foul trouble, and get a few freebies at the line, the gap between these two teams would narrow. That'll be huge. Anthony and Dampier are decent shot-blockers but if they settle for too many jumpers and shy away from contact, it'll be a very short series. Attack, attack, attack. Nothing to lose.
Against a better team, the best recipe is to hit shots and get to the line. Hopefully, this streaky shooting offense comes out firing. M33KS. Jodie M33KS.