Here's the difference between the Miami Heat and the 76ers. In the first quarter of Saturday's opening game, the Sixers delivered their best shot. They scored 31 points, shot over 60 percent from the floor, led 31-19, and were bouncing all around the court. What happened? Miami was knocked slightly onto its heels, tossed a smidged off balance, and needed half of the second quarter to stand upright and reclaim the lead. Half of one quarter. Just a few minutes. You could have gone to grab a hot dog and by the time you returned, Miami had already put together its 12-0 run and was once again leading.
Today, Miami offered a return blow. The Heat swarmed on defense all game, created turnovers, and worked around an ailing Dwyane Wade to create some decent offense. What happened? The Sixers were wiped off the floor. This wasn't even the best Miami can offer. Perhaps defensively it was, but in other areas it was simply solid, strong, good. And the result was that the Sixers weren't even competitive, couldn't even score, were limited to 1 for 13 shooting from their three primary interior players (Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand, and Marreese Speights) and 2 for 8 from their best all-around player (Andre Iguodala).
Afterward, it wasn't as if coach Doug Collins wanted to pretend that this was "just one of those games" that happen in a "long NBA season." No. He gave it to you straight: when Miami is good, there's absolutely nothing the Sixers can do. Put it another way? Miami's best is better than the Sixers' best, although more accurately you could say Miami's good is better than the Sixers' great.
This is the truth, and since we said all along the truth is revealed in the playoffs, that's what's happening. The Sixers' interior is being dominated by an opposing interior that isn't actually considered top notch, but merely mediocre. Iguodala can't create any offense during the postseason, not when defenses have shifted out of their oh-it's-just-another-regular-season-game style and into do or die. And the team's halfcourt offense, when boarded inside that half-court line, just doesn't have the pieces (enough shooters, enough big men, any go-to scorer) to compete with a team like Miami.