Few people figured we would be at this point after the Miami Heat took a slim lead down the stretch of Game 4 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. It looked like the Heat would close it out and officially set their second-round matchup with the Boston Celtics. Instead, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams hit three-pointers, the Heat had their typical crunch-time problems and the 76ers were able to win and force a Game 5. On Wednesday at 7 p.m. on TNT, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company will look to end the series in Miami.
The Heat will no doubt be smarting at their inability to execute down the stretch, but they also will need to get off to a better start than they did in Game 4 on Sunday. The 76ers flew out of the gate early and took a 15-point first quarter lead, getting their transition game in gear. Miami eventually rallied, using a stifling half-court trap to tie the game in the second quarter, but they should not have made it more difficult on themselves. If they can get off to a good start on Wednesday, it might be enough against a young 76ers team.
The 76ers, meanwhile, got a slightly better game from Andre Iguodala in Game 4 (16 points on 13 shots), but he will need to be even better if they want to win on Miami's home floor. Ironically, the 76ers have gotten fairly consistent production from young point guard Jrue Holiday. Iguodala, though, has been stifled, thanks in part to a knee injury and having to expend energy chasing James around. Williams and rookie Evan Turner will also need to duplicate their Game 4 efforts. Both had 17 points off the bench, and both made key shots down the stretch.
If Miami wins, they will face the Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Sunday afternoon. If not, Game 6 will be on Friday. If the Heat win Game 6, Game 1 vs. the Celtics will still be on Sunday. If, however, the 76ers win both games, Game 7 will be Sunday and Game 1 of the next round will be pushed back.