After last night's big win over the Atlanta Hawks at the excited Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers are faced with an even tougher test tonight down in Miami as they take on LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
While the Sixers had their hands full grinding out a ridiculously impressive second half against the Hawks last night, the Heat very well could have been sitting poolside yesterday sipping strawberry daiquiris.
"They're rested and I'm sure they got some sunshine, 80 degrees [on Friday]," Coach Doug Collins said of tonight's opponent. "Obviously it's going to be a hell of a challenge. We're going to need a lot of guys to play.
"LeBron is playing fantastic basketball. They are a team, when they're on all cylinders, are probably the best defensive team in the NBA. We played them in the playoffs last year and scoring against them is very tough.
"We're going to have to shoot the ball better tomorrow night."
It's true. While the Sixers got red hot in the third quarter, it was largely due in part to their swarming defense generating easy fastbreak buckets -- and Jodie Meeks finding his rhythm from behind the arc. As a team, the Sixers shot very poorly for most of the night.
The Heat are the team many experts expect to be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy at the end of the season, so saying this game is another huge test is obvious. While the Heat are without Dwyane Wade once again, they're coming off an impressive win over the Los Angeles Lakers and had an off-day on Friday while the Sixers' best players were putting up 40 tough minutes.
Andre Iguodala's shutdown defense on Joe Johnson on Friday night was a performance he really had to work for, and he could be feeling the repercussions of it this evening.
"They hit me with some pretty hard screens," Iguodala said of the Hawks last night. "It got me really tired but I just kept fighting through it."
Dre and the boys will have to keep fighting tonight as they'll have their hands full covering LeBron and the hot, hot Heat.
7:30 tip from South Beach*.
*not really South Beach
Also of note: the Miami Heat will be rocking these nifty throwbacks from the ABA team known as the Miami Floridians. Pretty sweet look, if you ask me. Curious to see how it translates onto the court.