The theme of the Miami Heat after today’s shootaround at Temple University is how much respect they have for the 76ers.
Despite a 113-92 win over the Sixers in Miami on Jan. 21, the Heat have been impressed with the Sixers and rightly so since both enter tonight’s game at the Wells Fargo Center with identical 16-6 records.
All-star guard Dwyane Wade, who didn’t play in the Jan. 21 game due to an ankle injury, says he feels the Sixers are competing at the same level he saw during last year’s postseason.
Even though Miami won in five games, the Sixers were competitive in all but one of the games.
“They are a very confident bunch, have great leadership from a coaching standpoint,” Wade said. “They are that same mentality as last season and they have gotten off to a great start.”
Wade says the Sixers balance and consistency are their greatest traits.
“When you have seven guys in double figures and the style they play, equal opportunity offense, they are consistent,” he said. “They are the Denver Nuggets of the East and a dangerous team.
A key to the Miami win last month was that the Heat limited the Sixers to just five fast break points, yet Wade said the main focus will be on taking care of the ball.
“The key is not turning the ball over,” said Wade, whose team committed 11 turnovers in the earlier win. “If you don’t do that, then you can’t stop their transition game.”
He also feels the Sixers are more than just a running team.
“That was the knock on Pihlly that they were great in transition and not in the half court,” Wade said. “But now with the continuity of guys playing together for a while, they are a lot better in the half court.”
And better overall.
“No question when you think of top teams in the league, you have to think about Philly,” Wade said. “They will put a lot of pressure on you and come to play hard every night. We understand that.”
For Marc Narducci's earlier preview of Friday's Sixers-Heat match-up, click here.