NBA Playoff Predictions 2011: Can the Philadelphia Sixers Become Giant Killers?

Casey CrailCorrespondent IApril 12, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 25:  Forward LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat  battles for the ball with Guard Jrue Holiday #11 of the Philadelphia Sixers at American Airlines Arena on March 25, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Sixers 111-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers had a great turn-around with new head coach Doug Collins.

After a slow start in which looked to be consecutive losing seasons, the Sixers got back to playing fast-break basketball with great defense led by Andre Iguodala.

The Sixers will play the Miami Heat in the first round and are undoubtedly the underdogs.

After failing to defeat Miami in a single regular season matchup, hopes of making a run into the second round seem slim.

However, if Philly plays its best basketball, they can't be count out yet.

Without a doubt the biggest weakness for Philly is the lack of a dominate big man, albeit the same can be said about the Heat.

The Sixers' strength is the bench play led by Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young.

Opposite, the Heat bench was horrendous this year, and if the "Big Three" is struggling, it can make the difference in a series.

Iguodala's pressing defense could make his matchup versus LeBron James memorable for years to come.

Elton Brand and Chris Bosh will battle in the low post for rebounds. The two play a similar style game, to an extent.

Both can shoot from the high post, while courting an arsenal of low-post moves.

Dwyane Wade is the to the series.

The combination of Evan Turner, Lou Williams and possibly even Jrue Holliday all present mismatches in Wade's favor.

Unless Wade is just off for the entire series, he will likely dominate whoever is matched up against him.

The key for the Sixers lies in the hands of Jrue Holliday.

Mario Chalmers, Mike Bibby and Eddie House are all average point guards.

Holliday can show his ever-improving skill on the highest stage of his career and lead Philly to the second round.

If the Sixers are to upset the Heat as unlikely as it seems, they pose a threat to the Bulls and Celtics with regular season wins over both.

Upsets have not been a factor in the NBA playoffs since Golden State knocked off Dallas, but the Sixers, perhaps better than any other team, have a chance to show the underdog is still relevant in professional basketball.