There’s no debating it—the Miami Heat are the best team in basketball right now, and the Sixers—well, they’re one of the worst. Philadelphia comes into this matchup after losing 10 out of their last 12 games, and things don’t look too promising as they try to stop the freight train that is Miami’s 16-game winning streak.
However, All-Star Jrue Holiday has the chops to pull off a surprising upset if he plays to his potential.
The Heat only have 14 losses so far in the 2012-13 season and have recorded more assists than their opponents in only one of those games. In fact, in these losses they are out-assisted by 4.1.
This is good news for Holiday, who is currently fourth in the league with 8.6 assists per game. When Holiday dishes out 12 or more assists per game, the Sixers are 7-4. As a team, the Sixers are 14th in the league in assists with a modest 22.4 per game, right behind Miami with 22.5.
Holiday is a strong candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year as he continues to play great basketball on a poor squad. His best asset is his consistency. Holiday plays well even against top competition. The point guard averages 18.9 points and 8.3 assists against playoff teams, including a 21-point performance against the Heat earlier in the season.
Great passing can beat the Heat, but the Sixers also need for Holiday to be selfish with the ball. Philadelphia is 10-5 when Holiday takes more than 20 shots in a game. In those 15 games, he has only shot less than .500 twice, and both times resulted in a loss.
Another outside factor could help Phildelphia overcome the Heat—the underdog mentality. Not many believe that the Sixers have a strong chance to stop Miami’s impressive streak, and who could blame them? But their awful record allows for the Heat to breathe easier, right? Well, no. It took a last-second layup by LeBron James to overcome the Orlando Magic (17-45) in their last game.
Also, the media seems to be putting a lot of attention on Indiana as contenders to the Heat in the East, and Miami faces them after Philly, giving the potential for the Heat to overlook the Sixers.
Jrue Holiday needs to take advantage of this opportunity and run wild with assists and buckets to stop the streak at 16 games.