Miami took the season series 3-0, but Philadelphia does present some problems for the Heat defensively.
The 76ers have a very young and athletic back court led by Jrue Holiday at point guard. It is no secret that Mike Bibby is not a good defender. Holiday should be able to impose his will on the veteran as a result.
In addition to Holiday, Philly has Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young who are both young, talented players that have given Miami trouble in the past.
Philadelphia is well coached, but its greatest strength will also be the reason why they ultimately lose this series.
Doug Collins has done a great job of getting his players to buy in to his defensive system. The only problem is, that Coach Collins’ does not like his players to scramble on the defensive side of the ball. As a result, he plays mostly man to man.
Miami can easily exploit this, because it has two of the best wing scorers in the game. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will essentially be able to take their respective man off the dribble every single possession. The 76ers simply do not have a presence in the paint big enough to counter.
This also allows Miami to use its smaller lineup, featuring James at power forward and Chris Bosh at center. This means that there will also be a combination of shooters on the floor for Miami to help with spacing.
Playing Bosh at center gives him a clear speed advantage over Spencer Hawes, who has had difficulty guarding Bosh this season when being attacked off the dribble.
James has shown all season that he can score easily when guarded by a power forward in the paint. He is so much faster and just as strong, if not stronger than anyone guarding him.
Wade will abuse Jodie Meeks, who just cannot seem to keep the former finals MVP in front of him.
Mike Miller should be healthy enough to play in this series, but look for Mario Chalmers’ defense to be more key coming off the bench. Chalmers has a tough draw with Holiday and Williams.
It will be interesting to see if Erik Spoelstra decides to give any spontaneous minutes to Eddie House, who lit up Toronto in Miami’s season finale, going for a career-high 35 points in the process.
Joel Anthony will be needed to provide energy and defense against a very athletic Philly team. Look for him to contest shots at the rim and grab rebounds. I would not expect as many touches in the post this series as he did against the Boston Celtics last week.
I both respect and acknowledge what Doug Collins has been able to do this year in Philadelphia without a legitimate center or a 20 point scorer, but Miami is too much for his team to handle.
Miami will win this series in five games. The 76ers are still a very young team and their lack of experience is going to cost them against a team full of veterans.