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Again With the Heat: Our Miniscule Chances of Going One for Four

Apr 3, 2012, 3:15 PM EDT

The Sixers will do their best tonight to avoid the 4-game season sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat.

Update: The Heat will be without D. Wade this evening.

You know what the most insulting part of the Heat’s recent ownage of the
Sixers is? The Heat didn’t even have the decency to beat the Celtics
last Sunday, getting creamed by the C’s in Boston. Not only do they
insist on beating the Sixers every time the teams play, but when it
comes time for them to face one of the teams the Sixers need to drop a
couple for playoff-seeding purposes, they all of a sudden turn into a
middling squad imminently capable of losing games. Why does Miami insist
on torturing us so?

Somehow, we got matched up with this team four times this year—more
than we face off against several of our actual Atlantic Division
rivals—and tonight Miami goes for the four-game series sweep. It’s hard
to tell what it is about this team that vexes Philly so that they can’t
even seem to take advantage of the Heat while they’re in a phone-it-in
stretch—bad matchups with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade? Lack of toughness
down low against Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony? LeBron James just being
that insultingly good? It’s been infuriating for years now, and it
doesn’t appear to be getting any less so anytime soon.

The good news is this: Even if we are chalking up the Miami game as
an automatic L, it’s the last borderline-unwinnable game the Sixers play
this year. After this, the hardest games the Sixers play in their final
13 are two matchups each against the Pacers and Magic, both of whom
Philly has proven every bit capable of beating. No more Heat, no more
Bulls, no Spurs or Thunder or anyone else whose three-letter code on the
schedule sends chills down your spine. In addition, Philly gets two
games the lowly Raptors and three against the Nets, as well as one more
each against the lottery-bound Cavs and Pistons…the Sixers could
realistically finish the season on a 9-4 or 10-3 tear. (Or they could
fall apart and end up at .500 once more, and you may never hear from me
again.)

Evan.Turner.knicks.jpg

The other good news: We’re getting something dangerously close to
“consistency” from Evan Turner of late. Here’s ET’s last four games from
the field: 10 points on 5-11 shooting, 12 points on 6-13, 11 on 5-7, 13
on 6-13. It’s not as exciting as when he was tearing off 20/10-type
games in early March, but it’s almost as encouraging—after endlessly
oscillating between Good and Bad Evan Turner, we appear to have settled
in a much more sustainable middle for the time being. Throw in the good
rebounding and ball-handling (he’s only turned the ball over once in the
last three, with nine combined assists), and Evan has been one of the
team’s most reliable producers the last week or so. We’ll need him to do
a little more if the team’s gonna have a shot in the playoffs, but for
now, we’ll take the stability.

7:30 tip form American Airlines Arena. Do the Sixers stand a chance
of taking this one? I wish I could come up with some new advantage the
Sixers have, but aside from the fact that the Heat have been kind of
crummy on the road recently, there’s not much to portend Sixers success
tonight. Still, if Philly can get blown out by the Wizards, clearly
anything is possible, and maybe Evan and Spencer Hawes were inspired by
their WWE experience
last night or something. Just pray that the matchups don’t fall as such
that we have to do this four more times after the season wraps.