Friday, February 3 2012
Miami Heat (16-6) at Philadelphia 76ers (16-6)The Philadelphia 76ers are wondering what it will take to get proper recognition after beating a pair of Eastern Conference heavyweights.
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A rare win over the Miami Heat could do the trick.
Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia seeks a fifth straight victory when it hosts Miami on Friday night.
The 76ers (16-6) followed a 74-69 win over Orlando on Monday by knocking off East-leading Chicago 98-82 on Wednesday. They've won 14 games by at least 10 points and lead the NBA allowing an average of 85.9 points.
Only four of their wins, though, have come against teams with a record currently above .500, prompting some to question their solid start.
"'Who've you beat?' I heard that. 'Inferior teams,' I heard that," said coach Doug Collins, whose team is 12-2 at home.
Andre Iguodala, who scored 19 points and added nine rebounds versus the Bulls, has heard the grumblings, too.
"I don't think we've gotten the respect yet from the outside," Iguodala said. "We're starting to get there."
Collins praised Iguodala for having one of his better games of the season, narrowly missing his third straight double-double.
"When we needed him, he really made that huge spurt," Collins said.
Philadelphia also will need him against Miami, which has won 12 of the last 13 matchups including the postseason.
The Heat, who knocked off the seventh-seeded 76ers in the first round of last year's playoffs en route to the NBA finals, had their five-game winning streak snapped with a 105-97 loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Miami (16-6) led by 13 at halftime before being outscored 58-37 over the final two quarters.
"What that second half showed is we still have a long way to go as a ballclub just in terms of playing consistently," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We were playing very good basketball in the first half. It's a fragile game. In this league it can go the other way quickly if you're not staying consistent to your identity."
LeBron James scored a season-high 40 points -- including 24 in the first to set an NBA high for most points in a quarter -- and Dwyane Wade added 23.
"You always give credit where credit is due," James said. "They made some shots in the third quarter and fourth quarter. They got back into it. They made a run. We held it as much as possible."
The Heat didn't have much trouble building on a seven-point halftime lead in their 113-92 victory over the 76ers on Jan. 21 despite playing without an injured Wade.
Chris Bosh scored a game-high 30 points and James added 28 and nine rebounds for Miami, which prevented the 76ers from their first regular-season win over the Heat since an 85-77 victory March 15, 2009.
Williams scored a team-high 22 points off the bench in the most recent meeting, while Iguodala was held to four points on 2-for-6 shooting.
Wade is averaging 30.3 points in his last six regular-season games versus Philadelphia.
Philadelphia 76ers Vs. Miami Heat 2/3/12: John’s Free NBA Basketball Pick Against the Spread
Written by John on February 3, 2012
All the Philadelphia 76ers want is some love, rather respect from the rest of the NBA. A convincing win over the Miami Heat on Friday night could solve that problem.
The 76ers have won four straight games, including seven of their last ten games. The recent winning streak has Philadelphia tied with the Heat for second place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia has benefited from playing 14 of its first 22 games at home, where they are 12-2 inside Well Fargo Center.
Guard Louis Williams has to be the front-runner for sixth man of the year. Williams is leading the 76ers in scoring, averaging a career-high 15.3 points a game. He is also shooting career-highs in field goal percentage (41.2) and 3-point percentage (38.3), while staying consistent with his third straight season of 82 percent at the foul line.
Andre Iguodala is the heart and soul of this Philadelphia team, doing a little bit of everything for the 76ers. He is third on the team in scoring with 13.1 points a game, is tied with Elton Brand for second on the team in rebounds at 6.7 assists, and leads the team with five assists per game.
The Heat are coming off of a hard loss to swallow, losing for the second straight time to the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite leading by 13 points at intermission, and LeBron James scoring 24 points in the first quarter, 40 for the game, the Heat came up short in Milwaukee 105-97.
It is the second meeting between Philadelphia and Miami. The Heat had no trouble handling the 76ers, defeating Philadelphia 113-92 on Jan. 21. Chris Bosh had a game-high 30 points and James added 28 points to go with nine rebounds.
The 76ers have not beaten since March 15, 2009. Miami’s guard Dwayne Wade is averaging 30.3 points in his last six regular-season games versus Philadelphia. The Heat have not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 13, and are 4-1 ATS in their last five after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The 76ers are 7-2 ATS in their last five homes games vs. a team with a winning road record.
The 76ers are a real threat in the Eastern Conference, and they do not need to beat the Heat on Friday night to prove that. It is still early in the season and Philadelphia has time to prove just how good they can play. Miami does not want to drop back-to-back on their two-game road trip, giving up second place to the unproven 76ers.