Daily Cup of City 6 (2/27/13)

City 6 Cup 2

Today’s Action

8:00 PM: Saint Joseph’s (15-10, 6-6 A-10) @ Saint Louis (21-5, 10-2 A-10) – CBS Sports Network

Though the Hawks’ win over George Washington Saturday returned them to .500 in conference play, they’ll have to play perhaps their finest game of the season to remain there as they travel to Saint Louis.  The Billikens (whose nickname stems from a charm doll), sit in first place in the Atlantic 10 and are at least one writer’s pick for a sleeper Final Four team.  Saint Louis has played exceptionally well of late, coming off consecutive wins against ranked opponents VCU and Butler as part of a current nine-game winning streak.  Junior Dwayne Evans leads the team in scoring (12.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg) as part of a balanced Billikens attack.  Like St. Joe’s, Saint Louis plays at a very slow tempo, working to get efficient shots (65th in the country on 45.6% shooting), and sporting a top-30 defense in terms of points per possession.  If the Hawks play a smart, efficient game to pull out an unlikely victory in this one, it would serve as the marquee win of the season alongside the Notre Dame overtime win.

Sixers Playoff Aspirations Vanish Into Thin Air

Stick a fork in the Sixers season; they’re done.

Facing an Orlando Magic team that had lost 17 of its past 18 games, and 10 straight games on the road, the Sixers decided to put forth their worst effort of the 2012-13 season in a 98-84 loss.  The team exhibited zero ball movement on the offensive end, constantly settling for long jumpers after one or two passes.  An Orlando 11-0 run to start the 2nd half infuriated Doug Collins as he benched 4 of his 5 starters at once.  A couple minutes later, consecutive turnovers by the Sixers brought a chorus of boos from the Wells Fargo crowd.  Following a Sixers’ spurt to bring the deficit to a manageable seven points to end the third, the Magic started the 4th quarter on a 13-3 run, eliciting a Collins timeout and more boos from a fed-up crowd.

The game, and really the Sixers season, was summed up by a sequence with 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter.  Evan Turner was called for an illegal screen out of bounds, charged with a foul and turning the ball over.  Following the whistle, Turner had a dumbfounded look on his face and Malik Rose remarked that Turner didn’t understand the rule.  He didn’t get it, and neither do the Sixers.

What was Jrue Holiday doing in this game?  Although he had 10 assists, Holiday finished with only 9 points on 4-11 shooting.  The Sixers’ all-star rarely asserted himself offensively, either playing passively or settling for a long jumper.  Only two Sixers played with any sort of energy on the evening.  Thad Young accrued 3 steals and 10 rebounds, including 5 offensive boards, and looked to be back to his old self following the hamstring injury.  The other bright spot was Damien Wilkins with a team-high 14 points; Wilkins had two powerful dunks early in the second quarter during the Sixers’ lone run of positive play on the night.

For Orlando, Nikola Vucevic showed the Sixers what they were missing in trading him away this offseason, compiling 12 points and 19 rebounds (19 more than Andrew Bynum had on the night).  E’Twaun Moore (forced into point guard duty with the injury to Jameer Nelson) finished the game with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists, proving how little tenacity Philadelphia showed on the defensive end.  Aaron Afflalo also his customary solid performance, tying a game-high with 16 points, and adding 6 rebounds and 7 assists.

As the final seconds ticked down, Philadelphia fans booed unceasingly for the final 30 seconds of gametime.  Vucevic went over to the Sixers bench and gave all the coaches and players the handshake bro-hug after the game.  The imagery was clear; the Magic may still have the worse record but at least they’re still playing with pride.  I’m not sure I could say that about the Sixers.

Sixers vs. Magic Game Preview (2/26/13)

The Sixers will need some magic to reach the playoffs after poor play of late.

The Sixers, mired in a five-game losing streak that has seen their stock plummet within the Eastern Conference standings, take on an Orlando team playing through a five-game losing streak of its own.  Sadly, the Sixers would be in great playoff position with any sort of decent play lately as the Bucks have also been floundering, losing 9 of their last 11 games.  Instead of taking advantage, Philadelphia has seen its playoff odds drop to single digits, much to the benefit of the Toronto Raptors.  Toronto has gone 7-3 since acquiring Rudy Gay in the biggest trade of the 2012-13 season and pulled even with Philadelphia for 9th place, 4 games back of Milwaukee for the final playoff spot.  If the Sixers drop tonight’s contest to the slumping Magic, any lingering chance of a playoff appearance will disappear.

The Sixers won the teams’ first contest earlier this month, 78-61, thanks to one of Spencer Hawes’ finest games of the season (21 points and 14 rebounds) and abysmal shooting by Orlando (27-80, 33.8% from the field, and 1-12, 8.3% from behind the arc).  That game was part of a stretch for the Magic that has seen them lose 17 of its last 18 games as the team has already turned its eye to next season.  Last week, the team traded away J.J. Redick, its second most productive player in terms of win shares, in exchange for a couple young pieces in Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb as well as the expiring contract of backup PG Beno Udrih.  Injuries have mounted for Orlando as Glen Davis is likely out for the season after surgery to repair a broken left foot and Jameer Nelson will not play tonight as he continues to sit with a strained left patella tendon.  Of the current starters, Arron Afflalo is the old man at 27 years of age, with the other 4 players all 24 or younger.

Philadelphia will get another look at their last two first-round picks, sent to Orlando as part of the deal to have Andrew Bynum wear a suit on the end of the Sixers’ bench.  Nikola Vucevic has shined in his second season, ranking 22nd in PER among NBA centers, while being only 1 of 10 players in the league currently averaging a double double in points and rebounds (12.3 and 11.4).  Moe Harkless has played well lately seeing more of an expanded role in the wake of roster changes and injuries, putting up the following numbers over the last 10 games:

Last 10 Games 10 35.7 .431 6.8 1.0 1.1 1.4 1.9 11.9

His shot is still a work in progress, as he’s sunk only 22.2% of his three-points attempts and 53.7% of his free throws on the season.  However, Harkless is still only 19 and has shown plenty of promise as an athletic wing and active defender.

Keys to the Game:

  • Jrue Holiday needs to have his way on the offensive end and take control of the game.  The Magic are splitting PG duties between E’Twuan Moore (really more of an inefficient shooting guard than a point guard) and Udrih, who’s a solid professional but not the same class of talent as Holiday.  Neither of these players should be able to slow down Jrue if he decides to be assertive.
  • Hawes needs to at least play his match-up with Vucevic to a draw.  Spencer played very well in the first game between these teams so I actually have some hopes for this one.  Maybe he’s in Nikola’s head from going up against him in practice last season?  Anyway, Vucevic will get his share of defensive rebounds but Hawes must keep him off the offensive glass and limit easy buckets in the paint.
  • Contain leading scorer Arron Afflalo (16.8 ppg).  Afflalo is more of a spot-up shooter and strong perimeter defender than a true creator on offense.  Whether the Sixers opt to go with Nick Young or Evan Turner guarding Afflalo, they cannot provide Afflalo open looks.  Make Orlando settle for shots from less-efficient shooters like Moore and Harkless.

Prediction: Sixers take on their frustration on an undermanned and outgunned Magic squad as Sixers fans remember what he feels like to celebrate a win.

Villanova Faces Its Kryptonite, Goes to the Wire

Threes were wild for Seton Hall in this contest.

Seton Hall may have entered last night’s contest next to last in the Big East but they represented the kryptonite of this Villanova squad.  The Pirates lead the Big East in three pointers made and attempted; unfortunately for the Wildcats, they struggle mightily at defending the three ball, ranking 14th in the Big East at 36% allowed from behind the arc.  This disparity on paper played itself out on the court in a big way as Seton Hall converted a season-high 13 of 21 shots from behind the arc on the game.  The Pirates were so committed to the three point shot that they did not even make their first two point field goal until there were three minutes remaining in the first half.

Jay Wright’s players excel at an area of the game themselves, having arrived in New Jersey ranked 2nd in the country in both free throws made and attempted.  True to form, Villanova attacked the basket early and often, finishing the game 25 of 27 from the foul line.  The Wildcats also did a great job forcing Seton Hall turnovers (19 in total) as their three-quarter court trap gave the Pirates trouble all game long.

While Seton Hall was raining triples, Villanova started off the game slowly, taking nine minutes of game time to reach double digits in points. A 10-0 Villanova run then gave the Wildcats the lead and the two teams would eventually go into halftime tied 32-32.  The game went back and forth all second half before  Mouphtaou Yarou hit a contested jumper with 25 seconds left to give Villanova a four point lead as well as give him 1,000 points for his Villanova career.  However, after two Seton Hall free throws, the Wildcats turned it over in the full court trap, allowing the Pirates’ Fuquan Edwin to hit a three with 10 seconds left.  It was one trey too many as it gave Seton Hall a one-point lead and the game, 66-65.

For Villanova, Yarou played great against an undersized Seton Hall team, finishing with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.  Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston led the team with 16 and 15 points, respectively, although the pair did combine for 9 turnovers.  Seton Hall’s Aaron Cosby led the Pirates with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.

A tough loss for a Villanova squad currently on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, essentially negating the big win over Marquette Saturday.  The Wildcats will need another marquee win or two before the season concludes.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/25/13)

City 6 Cup 2

Yesterday’s Action

Needing to regroup after a bad loss to Temple earlier in the week, La Salle did just that in a 72-65 victory over Rhode Island.  However, the Explorers did not make things easy on themselves falling behind by three at the break before storming back in the second half to take control of the game.  Tyreek Duren led the team with 21 points, shooting an efficient 7-11 from the field and doing a good job of getting to the foul line (converting 6-8 from there).  Big man Jerrell Wright also had an excellent outing with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.  As the only starter over 6’5″, Wright’s contributions are essential for the Explorers to have success going forward.  The Explorers, who find themselves 1.5 games back of 1st place in the Atlantic 10 with three games to play, will take on last place Duquesne Saturday.

Continuing its recent run of tremendous play, Temple built a 15-point halftime lead and coasted to a 71-51 victory over Charlotte, the team’s 5th in its last 6 games.  Scootie Randall led the way for the Owls with a game-high 18 points, going 7-12 from the floor (including 3-5 from behind the arc).  The Owls performed superbly on the defensive end, holding the 49ers to 27.4% shooting on the game (including a 1-12 mark from downtown).  As usual, glue guy Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was key to the team’s defensive success, finishing with 3 steals and 3 blocks.  Charlotte was reduced to too much one-on-one action resulting in bad shots as they finished with an abysmally-low 4 assists.  Temple will next face Detroit on Thursday in an non-conference affair as part of a make-up for a weather postponement back in December.

Today’s Action

9:00 PM: Villanova (18-10, 9-6 Big East) @ Seton Hall (13-15, 2-13 Big East) – ESPNU

Following a huge win over Marquette Saturday night, Villanova travels to New Jersey to take on the Pirates in the teams’ first and only meeting of the season.  Seton Hall is riding a 9-game losing streak and currently in position to miss the Big East tournament entirely.  The game is the Wildcats’  final contest of the regular season against a non-ranked opponent; however, they can’t get caught looking ahead.  Seton Hall rates as one of the unluckiest teams in D-1 and a a single loss at this point would ruin Villanova’s hopes of earning a double-bye in next month’s conference tournament.  Junior swingman Fuquan Edwin is the man to keep an eye on for Seton Hall, averaging a team-high 16.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and clocking in at 11th in the nation at 2.5 steals per game.  Still, if Villanova continues to play the strong defense from its recent stretch, they should have no problem sending the Pirates adrift.

Knicks Put Another Dent in Sixers Season

Whistle Clip Art

The Sixers and Knicks got technical…

Technicals were the story of the game Sunday night in New York.  Evan Turner was the only Sixer showing signs life in the first quarter, stuffing the stat sheet and playing aggressively in continuing to earn trips to the charity stripe.  Unfortunately, his well-known temper got the best of him as he got tagged with a technical mouthing off to an official about a no-foul and subsequent double dribble call.  At the time, the Sixers were up 18-14 and seemed to have control of the game; following the technical, the Knicks went on a 27-6 run (including a 17-2 streak to start the second quarter).  Philadelphia accrued zero second chance points in the first half, a combination of tired legs from the back-to-back and a simple lack of fire in getting after loose balls.

I don’t know what Doug Collins said to the troops at halftime, but I doubt it involved allowing the Knicks to go on a 8-0 run to start the second half.  Philadelphia would regroup a bit to bring the deficit down to a more manageable 14 when Carmelo Anthony took an unprovoked swing at the back of Spencer Hawes’ head while going after a defensive rebound; the hit resulted in a flagrant for Anthony and technicals for Hawes and Tyson Chandler in an ensuing scuffle.  Naturally, the New York crowd would boo Spencer on every touch the rest of the game because how dare he not just accept a swing to his head from their beloved Carmelo in stride.  The fracas seemed to inject some life into Philadelphia who would cut the lead to single digits going into the fourth quarter.

Besides a too little, too late run to draw within five, the Sixers could never really get within striking distance as New York answered every Philadelphia run with a big bucket to a 99-93 final.  In addition to some big threes from J.R. Smith, the two max contract players for New York both had excellent games.  Cheap shot in the third quarter aside, Carmelo was unstoppable on the offensive end, using his quickness to get around defenders in the lane for easy buckets and wearing a path out to the foul line for free throw after free throw.  Anthony finished with 29 points (including 16-18 from the foul line) and 7 rebounds.  Turner, Thad Young, Damian Wilkins, and Lavoy Allen were all tasked with stopping him and none were up to the challenge.  Likewise, Amar’e Stoudemire had an extremely productive game finishing with a season-high 22 points (on an unreal 9-10 shooting); Stoudemire looked like the player of old, hitting his mid-range jumpers and attacking the offensive glass for easy putbacks.

For Philadelphia, Evan Turner had an overall excellent game with 21 points (7-7 from the free throw line), 6 rebounds, and 8 assists.  Jrue Holiday also continued his recent mastery of the Knicks finishing with a game-high 30 points (on 12-24 shooting from the field), in addition to 5 rebounds and 5 assists.  The Sixers next take on Orlando at home Tuesday night.  If they cannot break their slump against a team that basically announced they were tanking the season by trading away J.J. Redick, they should throw in the towel on the 2012-13 campaign.

Sixers @ New York Game Preview (2/24/13)


Here’s what Knickerbockers pants look like. Hard to imagine why the team shortened the name to just Knicks.

Philadelphia looks to earn its first win following the all-star break against the Knicks in the teams’ final meeting of the season.  In their last match-up, the lone Sixers victory of the teams’ previous three games, Jrue Holiday dropped a career-high 35 points.  Thad Young is hopeful to play tonight which would be a huge boost for a Sixers squad badly in need of a spark to break its four-game losing streak.

However, the Knicks have been on a skid of their own, also dropping their previous four outings.  The Knicks recently signed Kenyon Martin to a 10-game contract after trading Ronnie Brewer to the Thunder for a second-round draft pick.  The addition of Kenyon Martin is intended to bring defensive toughness and rebounding to the Knicks’ second unit (as well as team with JR Smith to form a dynamite neck tattoo duo).  Trading Brewer was a strange move, though, considering he was part of the most-used 5-man line-up for the Knicks this season as well as the team’s best perimeter defender.  The Knicks are hoping that with Iman Shumpert now seemingly recovered from offseason ACL surgery he can take over Brewer’s role in that capacity.

Keys to the Game:

  • Holiday has to convincingly win his match-up with Raymond Felton much as he did in the teams’ last game.  Tyson Chandler constitutes arguably the best interior defender in the league, making points from the Sixers front court very difficult to come by in this match-up.  Even more so than usual, Holiday will be the engine that drives the Sixers in any potential victory.
  • Someone up front will have to match Amare Stoudemire’s production, who has averaged 14 and 6 in his last 10 games as he settles into his role as first big man off the bench.  Hopefully, the return of Thad Young will account for that level of play.  Without his return, someone from the Lavoy Allen/Arnett Moultrie caste of Sixers big men will have to step their game up.
  • Finally, the Sixers will have to contain Knicks’ leading scorer Carmelo Anthony.  Although, he’s adjusted well this season to more of a power forward role with the team, he can still fall in love at times with inefficient long jumpers.  Philadelphia will need to do its best to prevent Melo from getting easy shots in the paint and finding his groove from the field.  Force him into outside shots and hope he doesn’t have a hot shooting performance.

Prediction: The Sixers traveling on the second game of a back-to-back continue their downward spiral in the second half of the season.  Thad Young either doesn’t play or is slowed down in his return from injury and Chandler and Stoudemire eat the soft Sixers front court alive.  Despite a solid effort from Jrue Holiday, Carmelo more than matches his production as the Knicks break their own losing streak in an easy victory.

Sixers Burned by the Heat

Miami carved up Philadelphia’s defense, scoring at least 27 points in every quarter.

I missed the beginning of last night’s game out to dinner in the city with a group of friends.  While I was gorging myself on unlimited Brazilian steak, the Heat were carving apart the Philadelphia defense on their way to a 114-90 Miami victory.  The 114 points were the second-most points allowed by the Sixers on the season even with the Heat resting their starters for the majority of the fourth quarter.  Philadelphia lost each of the four quarters as they were never able to get key stops when it mattered to try to climb back into the game.

Miami got whatever it wanted on the offensive end outscoring Philadelphia 40-26 on points in the paint, while shooting an exceptional 58.4% from the field and only committing 7 turnovers as a team.  As usual, Lebron James was the star of the show recording his third triple-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists.  James looked like a man among boys out on the court, getting to whatever spot he desired on offense and flying around on the defensive end in snagging a game-high 9 defensive boards.  As the Miami lead grew in the second half, the crowd’s loudest cheers were on Lebron highlight-reel plays rather than any positive Sixers actions (as few and far between as those were).  Dwayne Wade’s performance should also not go unnoticed, as he tallied a game-high 33 points on 14-18 shooting.

Despite the poor defensive effort from Philadelphia, a few players actually had good games offensively.  Jrue Holiday put up 21 points on 8-11 shooting, adding 6 rebounds and 6 assists.  Nick Young and Dorell Wright were hot from long range totaling 19 and 17 points, making 3 and 5 three-point field goals, respectively.  Unfortunately, the pair management deemed better than having Josh Smith both had poor outings with Turner committing a game-high 5 turnovers and Hawes shooting 1-5 from the field while only grabbing 2 rebounds in 25 minutes.  How a seven-footer could average less than 1 rebound per quarter defies the laws of physics.

Fortunately for Sixers fans, they will not have to dwell on this loss for too long as the team takes on the Knicks tonight.  Unfortunately for Sixers fans, if Philadelphia keeps playing like this, tonight’s game will only serve as a fresh wound to their dwindling playoff hopes.

Daily Cup of City 6 (2/24/13)

City 6 Cup 2

Yesterday’s Action

Following a heart-breaking double overtime loss to Delaware Thursday night, surely Drexel had some luck coming their way from the basketball gods.  Unfortunately, the season of what-could-have-been continued for the Dragons as they lost a nailbiter 72-71.  Drexel had three chances to tie the game in the last 10 seconds but Damion Lee and and Derrick Thomas were both unable to convert before Kazembe Abif was fouled and had two shots from the line to tie the game.  Abif, a 67.4% free throw shooter on the season, only converted one of two free throws and the Dragons lost out on an opportunity to take down the number two team in the conference.

Frantz Massenat scored a game-high 24 points for Drexel going 10-12 from the line.  However, the Dragons had no answer for either Towson’s Mr. Do-Everything Jerrelle Benimon who totaled 19 points and 9 rebounds, or Jerome Hairston who recorded a season-high 20 points.

St. Joseph’s moved to .500 in Atlantic 10 play in cruising to an easy 71-59 victory over the George Washington Colonials.  The Hawks jumped out to a 20-2 lead and still found themselves up 11 at the half, not looking back from there.  Langston Galloway recorded a season-high 26 points scorching the nets from long range (6-9 3PT).  The Hawks put forth a solid effort on the glass out-rebounding GW 33-31, a team who came in 41st in the country in that category.  St. Joseph’s will next travel to Saint Louis Wednesday night to take on the first-place Billikens.

Villanova cemented another block in the foundation of its strong tournament resume, winning a close battle over nationally-ranked Marquette, 60-56.  Sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard scored a game-high 22 points on a efficient 7-10 outing from the field.  The Wildcats were able to slow down the high-powered Golden Eagles’ offense, holding them to an 86.6 offensive rating, compared to their 114.8 rating on the season.  Ball security was the name of the game as the Wildcats only committed 10 turnovers while forcing 19 giveaways from Marquette.  The win was Villanova’s third win over a ranked opponent this season and brings them within 2.5 games of first place in an extremely competitive Big East conference.

Coming off their best stretch of basketball all season, the Quakers came out last night with easily their poorest effort of the 2012-13 campaign in a 58-41 defeat.  Against a beatable Columbia team, Pennsylvania put up by far its lowest point total of the season behind a horrific 14-48 shooting performance from the field (including 1-11 from behind the arc).  Leading scorer Miles Cartwright was particularly off his game missing 9 of 10 field goal attempts.  The only encouraging note from last night’s action was a second consecutive strong performance from freshman Tony Hicks who tallied a game-high 19 points on 8-15 shooting (the only member of the team to shoot .500 or better on the evening).  The Quakers will look to get back on track Friday against Dartmouth.

Today’s Action

2:00 PM: La Salle @ Rhode Island

Following a poor outing versus Temple earlier in the week, the Explorers will look to bounce back against a scuffling Rhode Island squad.  The Rams have not made the NCAA tournament since 1999 when the candyman Lamar Odom walked around campus in Kingston and this season has proved to be another down year.  On this year’s edition of the Rams, Xavier Munford is the player to stop, averaging 17.3 ppg, though on an inefficient 38.6% from the field.  La Salle currently finds itself 2 games back of first place in Atlantic 10 conference with 4 games to play.  The Explorers ought to take care of business and stay among the conference elite.

4:00 PM: Temple @ Charlotte

The Owls travel to Charlotte after securing a one point victory against the 49ers at home earlier this month.  Khalif Wyatt had a game-high 25 points in that contest while Jake O’Brien registered a season-high 22 points.  Defensively in this match-up, Temple will look to pack the paint and stymie Charlotte’s interior scoring.  The 49ers are a terrible outside shooting team, only knocking down 26.9% of their three-pointers this season.  Additionally, Charlotte has been the luckiest team this season according to Ken Pomeroy’s basketball ratings.  After a mid-season slump, Temple has turned things around lately, winning 4 of its past 5 games.  If Temple brings the level of play it did in its dominating performance against La Salle Thursday night, it should make that streak 5 of 6.

Sixers vs. Heat Game Preview (2/23/13)

crown 05 vector

King James comes to town Saturday night.

To be the champ…oh, let’s not kid ourselves.  Barring an act of divine interaction, Philadelphia will only be hoisting this season’s Larry O’Brien trophy in an EA sports video game.  With a small window of opportunity to make the playoffs coming out of the All-Star break, the Sixers decided they did not like the breeze in coming out flat in the loss to Minnesota.  Fortunately for Philadelphia, the 8th place Bucks lost close games to Brooklyn both Tuesday and Wednesday night and only hold a 3.5 game lead over the Sixers.  That’s where the good news ends, however.  First, Milwaukee made the biggest splash of a relatively quiet trade deadline in acquiring J.J. Redick as part of a six-player deal with Orlando.  Redick, who ranks 11th in the NBA in three-pointers made (and likely leads the league in poetry slam books), will greatly shore up an area of weakness for a team currently ranked just 21st in the NBA in 3PT% at 34.8%.  The move strengthens the Bucks for the stretch run, further reducing the odds of a Sixers comeback.

In addition to that encouraging news, the defending champion Miami Heat and the best player in the NBA and odds-on favorite for MVP, Lebron James, are coming to town Saturday night to pay the Sixers a visit.  Lebron is in the midst of a truly historic stretch of play during the month of February in which Miami has gone 9-1.  In his ten games this month, he’s averaged 30.2 ppg on 66.3% shooting, 7.6 rpg, and 6.7 apg.  The only thing James has done wrong this month is get absolutely eaten alive by Kobe in the all-star game.  Besides the extraordinary performance Lebron has put together this season, Dwayne Wade has also been phenomenal, averaging 20.9 ppg on 50.4% shooting, 4.9 rpg, and 4.8 apg.  To put these totals in perspective, only 6 players in the NBA are currently averaging at least 20 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 4.5 apg (James, Wade, Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and Bryant).  So to say the Sixers will be at a talent disadvantage in this match-up would be like saying tickets for the Jay-Z / Justin Timberlake concerts will be in-demand.

Keys to the game:

  • Not lately, but earlier in the season, Miami was prone to taking games off against lower-profile teams.  Hope that is the case in this game and bring the energy early to build a lead before Miami really tightens the screws.
  • Do everything possible to get the ball out of the hands of James and Wade, and force the Heat to win with outside shots from Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and the rest of Miami’s supporting cast.  Those players may very well hurt you but it beats the alternative of having Lebron doing Lebron things all game long.

Prediction: The Sixers will be crowned by the King as the Heat win in a rout.