If you needed proof that miracles can and do happen, look no further than Monday night's slate of games. While there were only five games on the league's slate, the Philadelphia 76ers still pulled off the seemingly impossible. That's right: they posted a 125.4 offensive rating, the highest of any team in action.
The Sixers' efficient night, which included a 57.9 effective field goal percentage (eFG%), was buoyed by some excellent three-point shooting by a couple of swingmen and a surprisingly effective performance by Spencer Hawes. The threes came from Damien Wilkins and Dorell Wright, who combined to go 5-8 from deep and posted a combined 75.0 eFG% in 45 minutes of total playing time. Wilkins in particular utilized the most effective shot in the game - the corner three. Both threes he made came from the right corner.
Hawes found most of his success at the rim. Not coincidentally, he mostly eschewed the long twos he's so fond of. Hawes went 8-8 on shots at the rim, exceeding his shooting percentage there for the season by a wide margin. Despite his effectiveness down low, Hawes still managed to take five shots from 16 feet and beyond, knocking down just one. Spence was solid on the boards, too, grabbing 14.7 percent of offensive rebounds while he was on the floor and picking up 10 total rebounds (four offensive).
Cooling the Heat
Not many expect the Sixers to be the team to end Miami's 19-game winning streak, longest in the league this year, although they gave the Heat a bit of a challenge last Friday night. If they're going to give Miami another tough game, they should focus on a few key areas.
- Take care of the ball – Eliminating turnovers has been the Sixers’ calling card during the Doug Collins era. Even in this down year, the Sixers are still second in the league at taking care of the ball, turning it over on just 12.4 percent of their possessions. Miami, though, is third in the league at forcing them, getting a turnover on 14.8 percent of opponents’ possessions. Everyone knows what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Co. can do with live-ball turnovers, so the Sixers will have to be especially careful to avoid getting run out of the gym.
- Keep knocking down threes - After their poor start to the season in defending three pointers, the Heat now rank a respectable 14th in three point percentage allowed. The Sixers are a middle of the pack team in terms of making the three, but they're in the midst of a three-game stretch that has seen them knock down 47.9 percent of their long-range shots.
- Crash the glass - Miami's biggest perceived weakness is their rebounding ability. In fact, they are just 27th in offensive rebounding percentage, but are right around league average in defensive rebounding. The Sixers will need Hawes and Thad Young to replicate their performances from Monday - a combined 20 boards and total rebounding percentages of 18.7 and 17.6 - if they want to take advantage of Miami's lack of size inside.