NBA Playoffs 2011: Philadelphia 76ers Must Try Anything and Everything vs. Miami
While there may have been a few differences in the breakdowns, they've mostly led to the same conclusion—the Sixers will be lucky to even make this a competitive series.
While I tend to agree with that line of thinking, it doesn't mean that the Sixers should just lay down and let the Heat roll right over them.
In fact, while the 76ers are the heavy underdog, they do actually have a few advantages in this series.
One of those perceived advantages is in the coaching department.
Even though neither man will play a single minute in the series, the matchup between Doug Collins and Erik Spoelstra seems to lean in Collins' favor.
Collins has nine years of head coaching experience in the NBA compared to only three for Spoelstra.
In terms of playoff experience, this will be Collins' sixth trip to the playoffs, where his teams have won multiple series and advanced as far as the Conference Finals.
For Spoelstra, this will be his third straight appearance in the playoffs but his teams have never advanced past the first round.
I'm a strong believer in the fact that coaches can only do so much. Ultimately, it's up to the players on the court to make the difference. However, there is at least some hope that Collins can orchestrate a defensive strategy that can slow down the Heat and their Big Three.
Another one of the few edges that the Sixers have over the Heat is their strength off the bench. That edge took a hit when it was thought that Lou Williams might miss some action after straining his right hamstring, but as of Thursday night, both Williams and Collins seem pretty certain that Lou will be ready to go come Saturday.
It will be a huge plus to have Lou's scoring punch off the bench, as it was clearly evident that the Sixers missed him during their late season swoon.
Along with Williams, the Sixers have the luxury of being able to deploy Thaddeus Young into games, where his combination of size, athleticism and hustle allow him to contribute on both ends of the floor.
This is where the title of my article comes into play—when I said that the Sixers needed to try anything and everything to hang with the Heat, what I had in mind involved Thaddeus Young.
I realize that going into the playoffs is not the time to make a drastic change to your lineup, and I guarantee that Doug Collins won't, but dealing in hypotheticals is a luxury that comes with writing.
What do you think about Iguodala guarding Wade and Young guarding James?
So, here's what I was thinking.
It's been well-documented that the Heat won all three matchups between the two teams this season. The leading scorer in every one of those games was Dwyane Wade, who averaged 30 points a game, torching the likes of Jodie Meeks, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams and Evan Turner.
It's also been widely acknowledged that Andre Iguodala is one of the best defenders in the entire NBA. In two of those three games, he held LeBron James to well below his season average.
So, I would be curious to know if the Sixers could defend better if they went with a lineup where Iguodala started at shooting guard instead of Meeks and Young started at small forward in place of Iguodala.
This way, Iggy could try to slow down Wade, while Young could guard LeBron.
While Young isn't the same caliber defender as Iguodala is, most of James' points come from his drives. With Thad's size and athleticism, I think he could do an adequate job of defending James.
It might not be the perfect scenario—as I said, I doubt Collins would consider making a change at this point. However, if the Heat come out and demolish the Sixers in the first two games of the series, then Doug will need to try anything and everything to give his team a chance.
Either way, in the end, the Philadelphia 76ers are dealing with a team that can run out two of the best players in the entire NBA on one team.
Sadly for Sixers fans, it will likely be too much to overcome and I think the Miami Heat will win this series in five.
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