Three losses in a row. The Miami Heat, taking on the Philadelphia 76ers, have begun their six-game road trip 0-3, playing porous defense and inconsistent offense. The good news for Heat fans? The 76ers have lost four of their last five games.
The NBA was shocked when Philadelphia, predicted to be historically bad this season, started off the season with three straight wins, including a 114-110 win in the 76ers season opener. Since then they’ve reverted to the norm and now sport a record of 13-25. Expectations have been exceeded but Philly fans anticipate changes as the NBA trade deadline draws nearer. Forward Thaddeus Young, second on the team at 17.6 points per game will likely be dealt and Evan Turner (19 PPG) might be as well. Point guard of the future Michael Carter-Williams has been an unexpected bright spot all season, nearly posting a triple-double in his first game against Miami.
On the other side, Miami is struggling to find their “defensive identity” (a phrase Head Coach Erik Spoelstra uses often). They gave up 69 points in a Wednesday loss to the Washington Wizards and might have been reeling from the unexpected trade of long-time backup center Joel “The Warden” Anthony. The lone bright spot from that game was the activation of Greg Oden, playing in his first regular-season game in nearly four years. While Oden is unlikely to play against the Sixers, it was a feel-good moment for Heat fans who have not had much to cheer for lately.
Tip-off will take place Friday at 7 P.M. at the Wells-Fargo Center. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.
The Big Three Questions for the Game:
What can we Expect From the Heat?
Honestly? Who knows? Miami has certainly been inconsistent this season but make no mistake the reigning champions are definitely capable of beating the best teams in the league handily. Mario Chalmers (Achilles tendinitis) might return to the starting lineup, bringing much needed stability. But superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been erratic and need to perform better, both on offense and defense.
What can we Expect From the Sixers?
More inconsistency. This team is young, a little wild and fielding a lineup that might not be on an NBA roster if they were anywhere but Philadelphia. But they can play inspired offense when everything clicks and could catch a struggling Heat team and exploit Miami’s weak perimeter defense and poor rebounding.
Will Oden Play?
No. He was listed as “day-to-day,” participating in shooting drills on Thursday. But playing against Washington was a pleasant surprise, considering the shock resulting from the Anthony trade. His progress will continue being monitored and his playing time will be sporadic, increasing gradually until the post-season begins.