2011 NBA Playoff Analysis: How Heat Went Up 2-0 on Sixers

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The Miami Heat have destroyed the Philadelphia 76ers by 41 points over the last seven quarters of basketball, out scoring them by 41 points.  There is no doubt that the team’s defense has been the catalyst, holding the 76ers to an offensive efficiency rating of 87 over the last three quarters of game one and 83 for game two.  The Heat’s offense has fared well, considering that Philadelphia is a top ten defense, coming in just below their season average numbers.  What the Heat have done is feast on 76er shortcomings.

Heat on Offense

The Philadelphia 76ers have the eighth ranked defense in the NBA, and are above average in many particular aspects.  Unfortunately for them, their three biggest weaknesses: Isolations (18th in NBA), Pick and Roll Ballhandlers (23rd) and Post-Ups, can all be considered Heat strengths.  The Miami Heat have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  Naturally the team is devastating on the pick and roll when the ball is in their hands.  The Heat average .92 points per possession in these scenarios, tops in the NBA.  This is obviously a matchup that should favor the Heat in this series, and it has.

The Heat have attacked the 76ers off the pick and roll with the ballhandler finishing 22 times this series, resulting in 25 points, or 1.14 PPP.  The Heat have been particularly successful attacking Elton Brand, who with age and injuries slowing him down, cannot keep up.  Look for the 76ers to get a steady diet of pick and rolls in the remaining games, and look for them to have no success stopping the.

On isolations, the Heat have been under producing their league best season average of .93 PPP, but they have still beaten up the 76ers on them to the tune of .89 PPP which is greater than what the 76ers allowed during the regular season.  Andre Iguodala is as good as any perimeter defender, and he’s why the Heat have slightly underperformed, but with multiple options, the Heat are still getting the job done.

In game two, Chris Bosh went to work in the post.  He used his height advantage over Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young to drop feathery jumpers all night.  This advantage is not going anywhere, and the Heat will continue to feed Bosh the ball in the post.  Also, Dwyane Wade has historically had success in the post against Jodie Meeks, both scoring and setting up teammates.  The Heat’s physical advantages are destroying the 76ers and there’s nothing Doug Collins can do about it.  Should the Heat continue to keep it simple, this series will be over soon.

Heat on Defense

The Philadelphia 76ers have a league average offense, coming in at .94 PPP good for 14th in the NBA.  They are only top tier in post-ups and in transition.  They have remained successful in post-up situations this series mainly because of Elton Brand’s success there early in game one.  The Heat have since taken that away from Philadelphia.

The 76ers were second to the Heat in transition offense.  They’ve been putrid in this series with only .85 PPP after posting 1.20 PPP during the season.  The 76ers have missed open looks, but the Heat have also been able to contest many of the shots.  In most contests, Philadelphia has the better athletes on he floor and they can run their opponents out of the gym.  That is not the case with the Heat, just another reason the 76ers couldn’t have been happy with the matchup.

Besides taking away the strengths, the Heat have really clamped down on every facet of Philadelphia’s offense.  The 76ers are producing at or above their season averages in only two of 11 offensive categories.  The rest are being shut down completely.  Unless the 76ers have a hot shooting night, it will be very difficult for them to score.

The Heat deserve credit for their game planning.  They have attacked the 76ers’ weaknesses on the defensive end, giving them a steady stream of plays that they cannot stop.  The Heat have also taken away any 76ers advantage on the offensive end since the end of the first quarter in game one.  It’s unfortunate that the 76ers started the season so poorly, because their point differential indicates that they’re the best of the bottom four seeds in the Eastern Conference.  They are just faced up against a team that out-athletes them, which is rare.

After analyzing the data from games one and two, there appears to be little hope for the 76ers.  They are outclassed in terms of talent, and the Heat’s coaching staff has pinpointed 76ers’ weaknesses.  At this rate, the series may not return to Miami.

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