76ers Vs. Heat – Why Miami is now the Series Favorite

After the 76ers pulled out a win in game 1 of their first round the world was ready to crown them as the eastern conference favorites. Ben Simmons and the rest of the crew were electric in that game. Philadelphia shot over 64% from three and forced 16 Miami turnovers. The Sixers routed the Heat 130-103 and were confirming a lot of what people thought may be true. The 76ers are for real.

But are they really? Yes, there may not be another team with so much young talent as the 76ers. The future for this team is bright. The only other teams that much up with their future, in my opinion, would be the Celtics and maybe the Nuggets. This team has 2 stars in Simmons and Embiid surrounded by a host of great role players that complement them well.

Both of these players should have a long career of solid playoff runs and even NBA championship appearances. However, I am not convinced that this year is going to be one of those times. Here are my reasons why.

The 76ers are overrated

Philadelphia has done everything to deserve the 3 seed in the eastern conference, but they are not the 3rd best team in this conference. At the end of the season the 76ers went on an impressive 16 game winning streak without Joel Embiid. No matter who they are playing in those games I do note this as a positive thing.

What I don’t do though is over value this 16 game stretch. In those games the Sixers beat the following teams: Knicks (2x), Nets (2x), Hornets (2x), Magic, Timberwolves (without Butler), Hawks (2x), Pistons, Mavericks, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Bucks, and Nuggets. The only notable wins here are the Wolves without Butler, Bucks, Cavs, and Nuggets. Is this really that impressive when 11 of your 16 game winning streak comes against teams that are trying to lose games?

Again, I really don’t want to downplay the team’s success this season. They have had an impressive year and I can’t wait to see them dominate in the future. I do, however, want to slam on the breaks.  Their next 5 games in this series won’t be against a team trying to lose. They’ll see maximum effort each game.

They also seem more and more likely to miss Embiid for the entire series. The 76ers are a much worse team without Embiid. During their “win streak” to end the season they went 8-0 without Joel. Outside of these games they were 3-7 without Embiid. They struggled against teams like Chicago and Sacramento over this 10 game stretch.

Home Court Advantage is Even For Now

After the 76ers lost the second game of the series they also lost a tight grip onto home court. Now a team that has been 22-19 on the road this season is in a position where they must steal at least one game on the road. For a young playoff team playing against a more experienced team and coach, this won’t be easy. The experience of facing road teams crowd in the playoffs is going to be brand new for many of these guys, especially their best players.

Coaching Adjustments Favor Miami

The playoffs are all about making adjustments. Whoever can adjust better is going to have the best chance. After Philly shot a ridiculous 64% from three in the first game the Heat adjusted. Spoelstra had his Heat players right up on the Sixers and not backing off. They weren’t going to give up a three unless it were hotly contested. This worked well as the 76ers were only able to shoot 19% from three point land in the second game.

Brett Brown is not a proven head coach in the playoffs yet. It would be silly to assume he is going to be able to match whatever Spoelstra comes up with. Brown has done a fabulous job this season, but there is no reason to believe he has what it takes to match one of the league’s best minds when it comes strictly to making game to game adjustments in the playoffs.

A Dog Fight Favors Miami

Miami wants a scrappy fight. They want to win with defense and close games. They don’t have a star player to lean on to takeover. Any player can lead them in scoring on a given night, whether it’s one of the Johnson’s, D-Wade, Whiteside, or Dragic.

On the other hand Philadelphia leans heavily on Ben Simmons to score and create offense. If this isn’t working and Philadelphia has to scrap for points then they are in deep trouble.

Rookies aren’t Proven

It doesn’t bode well for a playoff run when your team’s best player is a rookie. We’ve seen this happen with rookies like Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O’neal, Michael Jordan, and Carmelo Anthony. All of these players led their respective teams to the playoffs but were defeated in the first round.

Most recently in 2004 The Denver Nuggets leaned heavily on Carmelo Anthony to carry their offense. He wasn’t the same type of passer Simmons is, but he was a dynamic scorer. The load was too much for Melo and the Nuggets lost in 5 games.

It is rare to see a rookie carry their team past the first or second round. Guys like Kareem and LeBron didn’t even make the playoffs. Tim Duncan was able to get to the second round in 1998 but he had a hell of a team around him with veterans like David Robinson and unbelievable coaching. He wasn’t carrying the load like Simmons is.

If Embiid were available for the entire series my mind may have been changed about their chances. Two dynamic rookies are much better than one. Not a single one of these reasons alone are enough to call for the Heat to push past the Sixers, but when you look at all of them collectively you can begin to see how Philadelphia could be sent home early by the Heat.

NBA PLAYOFFS – REACTION TO NBA PLAYOFF ACTION – PART ONE – SATURDAY GAME 1’S

The first weekend of round one was a blast. Don’t worry if you missed a game or two or all of them. I’ve got you covered with the biggest takeaways from all 8 games from this weekend. What teams did right and what teams will need to change going forward if they want to move on. Scroll on down through all 8 games or just find your favorite team to get caught up.

Spurs vs. Warriors

Well, it is confirmed that this series will more than likely be a snooze fest. San Antonio can’t score and Golden State is gearing up on the defensive end.

Takeways

  • Golden State locked in on Defense.
    • Draymond Green showed up in this game and not only him but Durant did as well. The rest of the guys typically don’t have the choice to disengage, but when both of these guys are locked in then it has a serious positive affect on everyone else. Any team would have difficulties scoring on the GSW defense that came to play in this first round game
  • LeMarcus Aldridge struggled scoring and shot a low percentage from the field.
    • Aldridge couldn’t really take advantage in the post in this game. He scored 14 points on 41% shooting which were mainly inside shots. He struggled scoring last playoffs against Golden State and if he does the same this series will be over quick.

Conclusion

The Spurs have been terrible on the road all season long. I don’t expect that to change. Kawhi is clearly not coming back. Those are both large nails smashed into the Spurs coffin. I don’t put anything past Popovich, but I can’t fathom the Spurs taking more than 2 games in this series. I’m expecting another blowout tonight and then some harder fought wins to finish a sweep for the Warriors.

Wizards vs Raptors

DeRozan and Lowry didn’t disappear and John Wall and company didn’t get into a hissy fight on the other end.

Takeways

  • DeRozan and Lowry were awesome
    • After the first half of this game I was a little worried about these two. On one hand they were sharing the ball and staying true to playing the same way they had all season which had brought them a lot of success. When things got tough they kept on trusting their teammates and it was paying off. On the other hand they had only 7 points on 8 shots combined. I was afraid until the moment the second half started. Lowry and DeRozan put up 8 of their first 10 points to begin the half. From here out they led the way on both ends of the floor.
  • Toronto’s support players were not afraid of the spotlight
    • Toronto’s support players were amazing as well. Even without Vanvleet they had a number of guys step up. Anunoby had 8 huge points in the first quarter. Poeltl came off the bench and provided a defense of presence and recorded 2 blocks. Delon Wright provided 18 points on 75% shooting from three point land. CJ Miles was able to knock down some deep threes and wound up 4/7 from three with 12 points.

Conclusion

Washington is going to need Wall to play up to his potential. He played well in the first half with 13 points and 10 assists but his shooting fell off in the second and wasn’t moving the ball as well. Toronto will be locked in and more confident from here on out. Don’t expect Washington to go down easily, though.

Heat vs 76ers

Are you still doubting Philadelphia? Who am I kidding. We’re all on that bandwagon.

Takeaways

  • Ben Simmons is really good
    • I haven’t got to see a whole lot of Ben Simmons this year. I am really impressed. His ability to get into traffic and score or find the open man is supernatural.
  • Sixers fans owe Bryan Colangelo a thank you for Illyasova & Belinelli
    • Both of these players have been a huge asset to the 76ers. Their ability to knock down threes and IQ have really complemented what this team is trying to do with Simmons. Since signing both of these guys Philly is 21-3.

Conclusion

Spoelstra is going to have to pull something out of his for this series. I wouldn’t count Miami out. The inexperience of the Sixers and the experience of the Heat makes me cautious to give this series to Philly too quickly.

Pelicans vs Blazers

Anthony Davis will be the best player in this series and the Pelicans may need some huge games from him before it’s all over.

Takeaways

  • Jrue Holiday led the way in containing the Blazers guards
    • New Orleans won this game by not letting Lillard or Mccollum take over. Jrue Holiday had a fantastic game guarding Lillard and came up with some huge plays late. If Holiday continues this defensive effort the Pelicans may walk away from this series sooner than they expect. Dame only shot 26% from the field while CJ was 39%.
  • Anthony Davis was the best player on the court
    • AD asserted himself on both ends of the floor. Everyone knows what his potential is. It is just up to him to bring it night in and night out. Tonight he brought it.

Conclusion

This series could turn out to be the most exciting one of the entire playoffs. Both teams are giving it their all on the defensive end. I wouldn’t expect Lillard and Mccollum to be denied like they were in this game the rest of the series. I certainly expect a struggle but they should hit a stride in one of these next couple games and look to turn the momentum in their favor.