Ready or not, the 76ers' season officially starts tonight against the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center. Before we get into the best-case, worst-case scenarios for tonight, just wanted to take a minute to explain a new item we're adding to Deep Sixer: On the Road.
If you scroll down the right side of this page, you'll see the feature added, along with a two-week schedule of what we're going to try to provide on this blog. It might change from time to time, because of flight schedules, etc, but we'll try to do a Live Chat every other week, videos with Cinesport, and, of course, regular analysis and updates. In addition, we're adding a new feature called "On the Road," which requires your participation. About every week (usually from the road), we'll be filming a video answering a bunch of questions about the team. Anything goes -- from on-the-court execution to a question about life off of it (say, what the team eats on the charter plane). Most probably don't care how the team travels, but perhaps a few do. Either way, you can submit whatever question you have using the submit feature below the "On the Road" banner. Could be fun, guess we'll see as the season progresses.
As for tonight. Well. I spent last night in Boston, watching the Heat play the Celtics. Afraid to say, there is likely little comparison between what we watched last night and what might transpire tonight. Here goes:
Best Case: The Sixers, as will every team this season, play their tip-top game and compete for three-plus quarters with the Heat. Because Miami doesn't have a true center, the Sixers could keep themselves from getting killed on the boards and run out in transition. If there's one thing certain about this Sixers team, it's that they are, for now, on board with whatever Doug Collins tells them. Andre Iguodala (sprained right wrist), won't even be able to stick to the perimeter. He'll need to attack the basket and that could actually work to the team's benefit. There are two positions that the Sixers could exploit: point guard Carlos Arroyo and center Joel Anthony. We can't see Spencer Hawes dominating anything, but it's possible that Jrue Holiday could bust out of the gate and prove why he's on the upswing of NBA point guards. If he can score 12+ in the first half, he might be able to offset the inevitable dominance of LeBron James and Chris Bosh (Bosh, specifically, on the glass). Wade seems out of sync right now. Couple this with the Sixers potential advantage from the bench (Lou Williams, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights), and the Sixers could be hanging around well into the game. Best case: Miami, 107-99.
Worst Case: The Heat, having performed less than ideally against the Celtics, absolutely dominate from the tip off. By midway through the first quarter, the Heat are outrebounding the Sixers, 12-2, are leading the game, 17-4, and are making the Sixers look like a D-League team. The biggest worry, in our opinion, is Bosh. Against Boston's post players -- Shaq, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal -- Bosh looked skinny and small. But against the Sixers, there is nobody to stop him from completely dominating the game. Bosh could have 10 points right off the bat: offensive rebound, put back, a few little midrange jumpers. Sixers could find themselves down big before either James or Wade got off. Yikes. The Sixers might not be ready for this level of competition. There only decent opponent this pre-season was the Boston Celtics, way back in the first week of October. The second time the Sixers played Boston, the Celtics didn't play their entire starting lineup. For a month, all the Sixers have seen is the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could prepare them for what they'll see tonight.
One final thought: James is angry. He'll spend this entire season playing angry and trying to dominate. Coming off a loss to Boston, tonight is just a scary situation for the Sixers. Worst case: Miami, 120-79.
Probable lineups: Arroyo, Wade, James, Bosh, and Anthony vs. Holiday, Iguodala, Kapono, Brand, and Hawes.
More after tonight's game.