Posted on: December 9, 2011 7:23 pm
By Matt Moore
You can't blame the Sixers, they got their guy. The Sixers have been making noise about intending to match any offer for forward Thaddeus Young in restricted free agency, and instead of letting it get to that point, the Sixers signed Young on Friday to a five-year, $43 million deal, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
And it's a steal.
Young blossomed under coach Doug Collins. Last season he pulled in 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is a terrific rate for a bench combo forward. His stellar 18.4 PER is a reflection of his increased efficiency on the floor, and his career high 54 percent field goal percentage was as much a reflection of his move away from perimeter play to attacking the rim as anything. In short, a player who once very strongly considered himself a small forward has evolved into a true combo forward.
The only question is, what are the Sixers really planning on with this signing? They currently have Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Craig Brackins, Elton Brand, and Marreese Speights at forward. It's not that Young will have a hard time getting minutes. He won't. It's that the Sixers have made a significant committment to a number of players at forward and have yet to set out a plan for how to build a team around them. Maybe the answer is for Young to become a true (undersized) power forward alongside Iguodala and Turner. Perhaps they just love the production off the bench. But it's an $8 million per year investment for a team that still seems to be struggling with its identity.
Young needs improvement but at least has the years ahead of him to work into it. His rebounding isn't stellar but it's quality for his position. He's the quintessential combo forward, but that comes with a price, especially when you lack range as Young does. He shot 33 percent from 10-15 feet and 34 percent from mid-range last season. If Young's going to be a stretch four, he's going to have to improve. The Sixers giving him this deal with their current roster situation means he's going to have to develop them sooner rather than later.
Again, there's no way to fault them for the deal. Young is 23 and on potential alone would warrant that kind of deal on the open market. The question is not whether it was a good signing. The question is what the signing means.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:43 am
By Matt Moore
First Wilson Chandler headed for the East. Now Thaddeus Young's agent has also said he's in talks with a Chinese CBA team.From HoopsHype.com:
“I have been contacted by multiple teams in China expressing very serious interest in having Thaddeus Young play in their league this season,” Tanner said. “I have discussed this with Thad and he is intrigued by the possibility of playing in China if the lockout continues and has asked me to further explore these opportunities. At this point, our conversations with the teams have been preliminary but we are continuing to talk and to do our due diligence on each option.”via HoopsHype.com NBA Blogs - Jorge Sierra » Young receiving interest from China.
The same concerns exist with Young signing with the CBA as with Chandler. The CBA adopted a rule earlier this month to bar teams from signing NBA players under contract with an opt-out clause, not wanting to become a temp job for locked-out players (which makes no sense for them, but whatever).
There's still the possibility that Chandler and Young, if he signs, could return if the lockout is resolved simply by the Chinese team releasing them in an under-the-table agreement. But if Young signs and stays, it means another major free agent off the board. Young really came into his own last season as he started to play bigger inside and became more versatile for Philadelphia. But with Philly still having Elton Brand on roster, and with the logjam at the 2/3 with Iguodala and Evan Turner, this wouldn't harm them considerably.
The bigger question is if the NBA meeting Wednesday goes badly, if enough free agents will be compelled to sign with China, abandoning hope for the 2011-2012 season to be played.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 2:53 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Rankings by EOB Staff.
As we near the halfway point in our countdown of the top-100 NBA players, we take the opportunity to honor two first-time NBA champions who share a first name, a position (guard) and an age bracket (old). Dallas guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd were both critical components of the Mavericks' run to the 2011 NBA title, highly-skilled role players who outpaced expectations in the postseason to provide franchise forward Dirk Nowitzki with the help he needed to take down the Miami Heat.
60. Al Jefferson, F, age 26, Utah Jazz
2011 Stats: 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 49.6 FG%, 20.20 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 62, 53, 62
The wide-bodied Jefferson stared basketball death in the face twice – first by playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, second by tearing his ACL – and he lived to tell about it, playing in all 82 games for the Utah Jazz last season and returning to his near 20-10 form. Jefferson can’t be mistaken for an all-around player: he’s a liability defensively, is a bit of a black hole and he doesn’t boast much range. But he can fill it up around the hoop, take up space in the paint and secure a solid portion of the boards.
There are a lot of parts in Utah’s frontcourt, especially after the Jazz used the No. 3 overall pick to select Enes Kanter, but the fit is questionable and further roster shake-up is definitely a possibility. Thanks to his big-dollar contract that extends through 2012-2013, though, Jefferson is likely to remain in place through next season as a stabilizing force in the middle surrounded by a roster in flux.
2011 Stats: 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 49.2 FG%, 19.33 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 55, 67, 55
Talented, promising seven-footers are rare in the NBA, especially those who boast 20 points per game scoring ability, no major injury history and excellent character. That’s Brook Lopez, and together his skillset and background combination is rarer than a needle in a haystack. The only problem? It’s a big one: Lopez isn’t a particularly productive rebounder and hasn’t proven to be a game-dominating force in the middle. His rebounding and block numbers took a step back in his third season as a pro and the Nets won just 24 games.
On a better team, Lopez would score less, shoot a lot less and be required to do significantly more dirty work. Still, on anybody’s team, he stands as a solid core piece.
2011 Stats: 14.2 points, 3.2 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 42.1 FG%, 14.29 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 62, 57, 55
Arguably the league’s most fun scorer to watch operate, Crawford has every dribble move you could ask for, plus a pretty shooting stroke to boot. He’s fearless and fearsome with the ball in his hands and he gives the impression that he would be happy to play hoops anytime, anywhere. But during his age 30 season, and his first year under new coach Larry Drew, Crawford saw his scoring productivity take a significant step back (from 18.0 points in 2009-2010 to 2010-2011) even though his playing time remained essentially the same.
That wasn’t great news for Crawford, who was in a contract year and is likely approaching the downside of his career. His defense has long been suspect. Crawford would make an excellent role player on a contender that needed some scoring pop off of its bench and it will be quite interesting to track where he lands during free agency.
2011 Stats: 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 54.1 FG%, 18.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 61, 61, 50
Young probably qualifies as a surprise for being so high on this list. He can thank his potential and his player efficiency rating for that. His overall efficiency is driven in large part by his high shooting percentage and an excellent scoring rate in a reserve role.
Doug Collins leaned heavily on veterans Elton Brand and Andrew Iguodala last season – shocker, I know – but Young was still able to show plenty during his turn through the frontcourt rotation, more than enough to make him a top priority for the Sixers during the free agency period. At 23, and with further development still ahead of him, Young should command a sizable offer. Philadelphia shouldn’t hesitate to match as long as it isn’t totally ludicrous.
2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 50.3 FG%, 17.99 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 52, 54, 66
A favorite of the advanced stats community dating back to his time at UNC, Lawson entrenched himself as the starter in Denver, so much so that the Nuggets moved Raymond Felton, a starting caliber point guard himself, to the Portland Trail Blazers for Andre Miller, a veteran who should slide nicely into a big-minute backup role. The key to Lawson’s game is exceptional quickness and speed as well as his excellent shooting touch. That makes up for the fact that he’s often an undersized defender, and his toughness helps too.
2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 51.0 FG%, 18.90 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 68, 47, 56
In his first season as a Chicago Bull, Boozer continued to be who we thought he would be: a multi-dimensional offensive force who doesn’t play much defense and isn’t quite reliable enough to be the No. 2 guy on a title-winning team. On paper, pairing Boozer with center Joakim Noah, a defense and rebounding specialist with energy for days, makes all the sense in the world. Injuries to both players probably slowed their acclimation together and it’s possible Year 2 for the new-look Bulls will be even more profitable than Year 1, which ended with tons of awards and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The new standard has been set though: beat the Miami Heat. A scapegoat has been established too: Boozer. The four years and 60ish million dollars remaining on his contract make the bulls eye on his back even bigger.
2011 Stats: 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 50.7 FG%, 17.86 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 60, 58, 52
Speaking of highly-paid and polarizing power forwards, Lee was forced to deal with falling short of big expectations last season as well. Signed as a major money free agent by the Warriors in the summer of 2010, Lee was seen as the much-needed inside presence to complement an up-and-coming backcourt combination of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. Lee’s scoring numbers took a hit playing with the pair, who can each fill it up, raising questions about whether Golden State’s core needs a bit more diversity in its skillset.
All (well, most) signs point to the new Warriors ownership getting the franchise moving in the right direction; whether or not Lee is able to get back to his 2009-2010 contract year production levels will be a major factor in determining how quickly Golden State is able to reach its goal of making the playoffs.
53. Jason Terry, G, age 33, Dallas Mavericks
2011 Stats: 15.8 points, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 45.1 FG%, 15.93 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 58, 43, 59
2010-2011 wasn’t Terry’s best season statistically but there is no question that it will be the campaign he remembers most vividly when he looks back on his career when he eventually retires. Quite simply it was a dream. Terry has entered the fourth quarter of his career arc at 33 years old but he remains an excellent shooter and pick-and-roll operator with a penchant for taking and making shots at opportune moments. He has to worked around defensively because he’s undersized for his position and is getting a bit long in the tooth but Dallas found the right mix, allowing him to focus on what he does best: make shots and talk trash. A key emotional leader, Terry’s confidence never wavered in the playoffs and his swagger put an exclamation point on the Mavericks’ team effort in the Finals.
It’s likely all downhill from here for Terry. But who cares? He reached the pinnacle.
52. Paul Millsap, F, age 26, Utah Jazz
2011 Stats: 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, .9 blocks, 53.1 FG%, 19.83 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 54, 53, 53
Thanks to the departures of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer in the last 14 months, Millsap has improbably moved into the centerpiece mainstay role for the Jazz, at least until young forward Derrick Favors has another three or four more seasons to develop. In hindsight, Utah was extremely wise to match a toxic offer from the Portland Trail Blazers when Millsap was a restricted free agent during the summer of 2009. His work ethic, energy and consistency are unquestioned, and Millsap provides valuable contributions both inside and outside on offense.
Will he ever reach All-Star status? Probably not, especially because the Western Conference is loaded at his position. How Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin will get production from Millsap and Jefferson, while also developing Favors and Kanter, remains a bit of a mystery. Until the youngins are ready, though, Millsap is more than happy to trot out his hard hat and lunchpail game 82 nights a year.
51. Jason Kidd, G, age 38, Dallas Mavericks
2011 Stats: 7.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 36.1 FG%, 14.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 49, 44, 64
As with Terry, the 2010-2011 season was the best of Kidd’s career, even if his production was a far cry from the days in which he put up triple-doubles on the regular. Kidd was a pleasure to watch this season as he did so many vital things so well. He knocked down open jumpers. He exhibited excellent shot selection, almost always preferring the extra pass to a contested shot of his own. He orchestrated the halfcourt offense brilliantly, knowing when it was time to force-feed Dirk Nowitzki and when it was time to swing the ball around the perimeter. He defended larger players well, using his quick hands and excellent instincts to more than make up for his lack of lateral quickness. The list goes on and on but he was about as important as any NBA player has been at the age of 38.
For all of that, he got his first ring. A fitting lifetime achievement award for a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 12:14 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 1:04 am
Chris Bosh leads the way (?!) as the Heat close out the Sixers and advance to meet their destiny versus the nemesis, the Boston Celtics.
Posted by Matt Moore
It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect, it was closer than it should have been. But the Heat have closed out the Sixers, and advance to the second round. The clutch hero was naturally... Joel Anthony?! Moving on, here's how this series wrapped up.
Series MVP: Chris Bosh. Who would have thought the most-criticized of the Triad would step up like this? 19.8 points per game for Bosh, and he finally showed the kind of aggression you would have hoped to have seen more of this season. Bosh found Elton Brand at the elbow, and Brand was too old to match him in speed, and not big enough to match his length. Bosh was consistently aggressive, and it paid off. The Sixers were supposed to have a better set at the 4-5 matchup, and instead, Bosh, alongside Joel Anthony, turned it. Like a Bosh.
It was over when: Game 2 when the Heat blew them out. The Sixers had shown life in Game 1, but Game 2 really showed that the talent differential was too great. The seeds of doubt were cast then. The Heat made the statement and it held through for a five-game win.
Goat of the Series: Andre Iguodala. Iguodala had his best game of the series in Game 5, but also shot 32 percent in the other four games. And on the key possession for the Sixers late in the game, after nailing huge shot after huge shot, Iguodala missed a pull-up jumper. The Sixers needed Iggy to take it to another level in this series, which was obviously a tough matchup. That's the playoffs, though, and he couldn't get it done. Iguodala will be a superb 2nd to 3rd best player on possibly a championship team. But as "the guy" he's just not a good fit.
Going forward, the Sixers should: Feel good about the progress they've made. Their first year under Doug Collins they made a miraculous turnaround, made the playoffs, won a game, and developed some good young talent. It may be time to cash in Iguodala as a building block and move towards Evan Turner. Especially after Turner's performance in the playoffs, dealing Iguodala makes sense, and would net them a huge array of talent. Jrue Holiday looks legit, as does Lou Williams, and Turner. With Brand getting back to decent performance, even at his age, a better starting center would set their future up nicely. They still need a star player, but sometimes the search for those takes time.
Going forward, the Heat should: Be grateful they didn't blow this one. Pushing this to a Game 6 in Philadelphia would have sent up "Oh My God, the Heat are choking again!" panic attacks. They now get time to prepare for Game 1 against Boston on Sunday. And they're going to need it. The Heat had so much momentum going into Game 4 and lost some of it. Even Game 5 felt like more of an exhalation than a victory roar. The Heat took care of business. Now the real playoffs begin for them.
Winners: Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers, Doug Collins, Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young
Losers: LeBron James, Andre Iguodala, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Spencer Hawes, Mike Bibby
Posted on: April 24, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 6:09 pm
The Sixers stave off elimination and the Heat choke away another game. Does either mean anything in the long run?
Posted by Matt Moore
First, it was certain the Sixers were going to save themselves some pride. Then, it was certain the Sixers were going to blow it again. And in the end, the world gets to celebrate another blown Heat lead, a blocked LeBron shot, and the Sixers live to die another day.
The Heat ran off a 22-2 run in the second quarter and lost. The Sixers shot 41 percent and won. And the leading scorer for Philadelphia was Evan Turner, who didn't even play in the first two games of this series. Meanwhile, the Heat's offense wilted and died in the face of a much improved Philadelphia defense. Elton Brand played physical for the first time in this series, and the result was a 5-12 performance from Chris Bosh, who had averaged just under 22 points through the first three games.
There's two ways to look at this game.
On the one hand: This series is still over, right? The Heat have a significant lead down the stretch, and it takes a Lou Williams 3-pointer (granted, he's shooting 60 percent from the arc in this series, but still) to stave off elimination at home. The Heat ran off a 22-2 run and had they started with any level of consistency or effort, this would have been a blowout. Sweeping teams in the NBA is remarkably difficult (if you're not the Celtics, apparently), and the Heat giving up a game isn't the end of the world. They've been in control for 13 of the 16 quarters in this series, the chances of the Sixers climbing back in are extremely low. The talent gap is just too great.
On the other hand: Isn't this how it starts? The Heat fail to close out a bad team in an elimination game. Spirits get down, emotions drop. Then the Sixers use the momentum to steal one in Miami, where the Heat don't have a great homecourt advantage with an apathetic crowd. All of a sudden, it's a 3-2 game going back to Philadelphia, and the Heat are questioning themselves. This sounds like science fiction. But it's what we've come to expect. Until the Heat prove they can commit to closing out a team with force, there will be doubt in people's minds about their ability. They gave this one up. So the model is there for Philadelphia, sans that second quarter disaster. The Sixers aren't dead, because the Heat haven't ended them yet. Until they do, that excitement about the possibility of a Sixers comeback will linger.
Miami thought they had taken all the pressure off of themselves. They thought they would coast into the second round. But, as much of an advantage as they've had, they still couldn't get it done. The Sixers live to die another die.
Posted on: April 24, 2011 2:24 am
Edited on: April 24, 2011 2:54 am
Can the Sixers take a game? Can anything stop the Heat? Or will the Miami team that failed in key situations in the regular season show its ugly head?
Posted by Matt Moore
The Narrative: This is the end, my only friend, the end. The Sixers have been overwhelmed in Games 1-3. In first-round defined by intensity, close games, and upsets, the Sixers are the one team that didn't show up to the party. They've been outmatched in this series and have shown no ability to figure out a solution to the Heat's Big 3. When Chris Bosh is owning you, you're in trouble. This isn't the same as Pacers-Bulls, where the Pacers have held leads for long stretches. The Sixers have held a lead now and then, but eventually the Heat run them out of the building. This thing's over. Maimi may slack off and let the Sixers get one in, but it'll be a gentleman's sweep (a sweep with a win thrown in to be polite to the other team). For the Heat, this is now about getting rest and continuing to build the sense of team definition they've been struggling to find all season.
The Hook: Chris Bosh was dominant in Game 1, LeBron James in Game 2, Dwyane Wade in Game 3. Who's going to take over in Game 4? Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Mario Chalmers? Mike Bibby? Joel Anthony? Probably not. The most likely scenario is the Big 3 each putting in contributions, the Sixers folding up the tents and this thing ending in a grind-it-out style like most of the series have been. It's true that the Triad has been in rare form in this series, but it's really been the Heat's defense which has done the work. They've shut down Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young, frustrating each with matchups and hard switches. They've looked consistent, communicative and smooth. There's just not much you can see in the way of an adjustment that the Sixers could make. Unless...
The Adjustment: It's time for the zone. It can't hurt, right? Making the Heat into jump-shooters is a much preferable end than watching them slice and dice through anyone and everything in their way. The Sixers might as well throw this out there. Sure, it's one step short of the full-court trap in the gimmick department, but the Heat do have a penchant for settling for jumpers when things get tough. They've been nailing them in this series, but again, what does Philadelphia have to lose? They've got to play with pride, but they also need to commit to stopping the Heat from spinning their heads around. Aggressive doubles on Bosh in the post, and hard fouls on LeBron would help, but in reality, the only thing that looks to stop the Heat right now are the Heat. Zone will at least induce them to think about doing what will trip them up.
The X-Factor: The wounded animal syndrome. The Pacers fought through about 70 bad breaks to beat a very good Chicago team. There's no reason the Sixers can't take one, especially at home. It'll take a monumental amount of pride and some fiery coaching from Doug Collins, but we've seen crazier things. Hey, the Spurs are down 2-1 to Memphis. Surely the Sixers can get one at home.
The Sticking Point: The Heat look like the best team in the East right now. But it's just the first round. They could use the rest, and they could us the mental edge of taking out a team that can't challenge in a sweep. Will we see the killer instinct? That seems like the only thing between Philadelphia and the brooms.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 3:56 am
Reactions from around the web to Sixers-Heat Game 3.
Posted by Matt Moore
The Heat’s big three demand so much attention and warrant extra bodies to keep them bottled up in the half court. It’s a distraction that spreads the opposing defense thin once the ball goes up, inviting other Heat players to slide into the paint from the weakside. Standing at 7-foot-3, Zydrunas Ilgauskas grabbed eight offensive rebounds simply by positioning himself in the pockets under the basket and playing volleyball near the rim.via Heat at Sixers, Game 3: Five things we saw - Heat Index Blog - ESPN.
We're seeing this same effective across several series. The Bulls are slaughtering the Pacers on the offensive glass because Indiana has to send three defenders at Rose on any given possession. The result is that there are often several players out of possession trying to force a Rose miss. If he makes it, they're doomed. If he misses, there's two Bulls in position for a putback or a reset for Rose to drive again, and once again, they're doomed. The Sixers faced this problem in triplicate, resulting in the Heat's sub-par bigs cleaning up. Stopping these elite players when they're driving is tough enough. But having to do it and grab the carom is nearly impossible, and that's what we're seeing. Even the Celtics are struggling with it agianst the Knicks. Granted, the Celtics have been a bad offensive rebounding team all season, but Amar'e and Melo are creating even more issues.
Like I previously mentioned, Brand's mid-range game was on point tonight. It was so refreshing to see him get those attempts off that were missing from his repertoire in Game 2. Although he worked wonders on offense, he was giving Chris Bosh way too much room on the defensive end. Bosh missed his first few attempts, but came back strong and took advantage of all the leeway Brand so graciously gift wrapped for him. He did a much better job on the glass than he did in the previous two games, putting 11 of them on the stat sheet. Impressive number, but his defensive rebounding percentage wasn't exactly encourageable (4.3% if I did the calculations right - I probably didn't).via Heat Turn it On in the Fourth, Sixers a Game Away from Elimination - Liberty Ballers.
Brand's defensive lapses were certainly disappointing, but against Bosh, it really is a mismatch. Bosh has to be guarded not only by a player big enough to disrupt him, but long enough to contest his shots. Brand's got decent bulk, but has lost weight to reduce wear and tear on his body. He's simply not long enough to stick Bosh in the mid-post. Bosh's best performance in a three-game set has come at the right time, and he deserves a world of credit for putting the Heat in the next round, once they wrap up this series.
Throughout, the Heat absorbed, absorbed, absorbed. And when they saw it was time, they conquered the moment, and ultimately, the Sixers, 100-94, to take a commanding, 3-0 lead with a chance to close it out on Sunday at 1 p.m.via Valiant Sixers fall to Heat in Game 3 | Philadelphia Daily News | 04/21/2011.
Whereas the Bulls are sprinting past the Pacers to the finish, the Heat are simply grinding teams down to their nubs. Both have their advantages in a playoff setting. The Sixers threw the kitchen sink at the Heat in the first and third games, but each time, the Heat have simply maintained, and outlasted. It's a stirring show of consistency which has been sorely lacking from Miami all year.
The Sixers' strength was their depth, but needing a win so badly, the Sixers shortened their rotation and put their best players on the floor for the majority of the game. And in the end, the Heat simply had more fuel. Kick on the afterburners, and fly on by. The Sixers really did just need one more star player to give them the extra ammo. Without it, they're in an 0-3 hole.
Dwyane Wade made a significant adjustment by getting the ball on the move. That changed everything about the 76ers’ defense, and also changed Wade’s scoring average in the series. He also pushed through a jammed shoulder. This was his moment.via Heat 100, 76ers 94 – Miami Heat – Sun-Sentinel.
If you want something really to be scared of? The biggest thing that's shown up in this series has been the return of Dwyane Wade's speed. That looked to be gone in the regular season. It looks back. That's frightening. Three times in the second half, the Sixers sent two defenders to try and slow Wade's dribble. Wade found James. What are you going to do?
Which is pretty much what Philadelphia's been asking since the series started.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 12:29 am
Edited on: April 22, 2011 12:49 am
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are good at basketball. Heat lead 3-0. The end.
Posted by Matt Moore
It was a noble effort. It really was. The Philadelphia 76ers came out, again, on fire, and outscored the Heat by eight in the opening frame. They flirted with the lead all night after surrendering it in the second. But down the stretch, there simply wasn't enough. Too much Wade. Too much LeBron. Too much Heat.
The Sixers got 20 points and 8 assists from Jrue Holiday. They got 21 points and 11 boards from Elton Brand. Spencer Hawes had 12 points. Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, and Andre Iguodala each played 40 minutes, as coach Doug Collins shortened the rotation to try and put everything on the floor to get that one win. But the Sixers just couldn't stop Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
It sounds trite to point to the Triad as the reason for the Heat's win, but it holds here, as it did in Game 2. Like we said in the reset, Dwyane Wade was due for a breakout. He broke out. 32 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks. James also dominated, with 24 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal. Bosh added 19. That's 75 percent of the Heat's offense from the Triad. The Heat's defense, however, wasn't on point Thursday night, giving up a 113 defensive efficiency. But they slowed the game down again, converted on the rare transition opportunities, and attacked, attacked, attacked. The Heat had 48 points in the paint, compared to just 34 from the Sixers. The Heat didn't go for the homerun three much. They just attacked the rim relentlessly. 22 free throw attempts for Wade and James. The Sixers just couldn't keep up.
The Heat have showed a lot in this series. It was a favorable matchup, but they also havn't shown the lack of focus they displayed in the regular season. Closing out the Sixers is remarkably different from trying to close out the Celtics -- their presumed second-round opponent -- but they have to start somewhere. And they're starting by looking like they're about to sweep Philadelphia back into the sea. Rest and recovery is important for a team as shallow as they are. They certainly look like they'll have an opportunity if the can finish the job in Game 4.
Oh, and LeBron did this.
Doug Collins put everything out to try and get the win. The Sixers were just outmatched. Some matchup problems have created issues for the Bulls and Celtics. The Sixers have posed no such threat.
Oh, and all three teams have yet to lose a game in the playoffs.
For Philly, it's got to be confusing. They only turned the ball over six times, and turned Miami over twice as much. They shot a decent 44 percent from the field. They shot 43 percent from three. They got contributions from unlikely sources, Jrue Holiday had a breakout, and they had a lead, again. It just wasn't enough. There was just no way to stop the Triad.
"I'm 60 years old. I'm a moral person, but I don't like moral victories."