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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sixers Preview: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers

By: Steve Zoladek
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WE'RE BACK BABY! The Philadelphia 76ers tip-off at home tonight against the defending champion Miami Heat, who're coming off a fantastic win against the Chicago Bulls.  Playing against a tough Bulls defense, the Heat shot 55 percent from beyond the arc and 51.4 percent from the floor.  The Bulls were actually playing well against Miami until the Heat reserves came onto the floor.  Norris Cole, Chris Anderson, and Shane Battier combined for 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting, giving the Heat a lead that they never relinquished.

Tim Shaffer/Reuters
If you don't see a loss coming tonight, may God have mercy on your soul.  The Sixers went 0-4 against the Heat last season, losing by an average of 16 points, and that's when they were actually trying to make the playoffs!  Now, the Sixers are undoubtedly going to try their little hearts out to win this game, but when you have Evan Turner guarding LeBron James, it's going to be a long night.

Without further ado, let's check out Philly's starting five! At point guard, we have the eleventh overall pick of this year's draft, Michael Carter-Williams.  At shooting guard, we have the 6'6 James "Six Career Starts" Anderson.  At small forward, we have the former second overall pick out of Ohio State University, and current bust, Evan Turner. Our starting front-court will remain the same this season with Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes.

You have to think that the Heat's gameplan will be to simply stop Evan Turner from penetrating, rendering him useless.  Without Evan Turner being able to get by his man, I don't see how the Sixers will be able to have a viable offense.  MCW's playmaking skills are pretty lackluster for a point guard, although he is undoubtedly an above average defender for his position.  With Jrue Holiday gone, the Heat will turn their focus to Turner on defense, who averaged about 14 points per game against the Heat on 45 percent shooting.  While that's not a bad stat-line, it's certainly not the one you want from your best scorer, who is also going to be tasked with guarding LeBron or Wade on the other end.

At halftime of this game, Allen Iverson, one of the greatest Sixers of all time, will be honored for his official retirement from the NBA.  LeBron James has said in the past that Iverson and Michael Jordan were his role models growing up, and recently said that Iverson was "pound for pound" the greatest player in NBA history.  That's high praise from a four-time league MVP who many consider as an all-time top-ten player.

The Heat are favored in tonight's game by 11.5 points.  Considering the Chicago Bulls are a top-four team in the East and lost by 12, I'm taking the Heat to win by at least 15 points, even if they had to travel to Philadelphia immediately after their win last night.  One loss down, 81 to go!


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