Saturday, February 23, 7:30 PM (EST) at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
38-14 (1st Southeast, 1st East)
22-30 (4th Atlantic, 9th East)
TV: The Comcast Network Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
THE ENEMY: M. CHALMERS | D. WADE | L. JAMES | U. HASLEM | C. BOSH
For a Sixers (22-30) team that is looking to snap a three-game losing skid, Saturday's home meeting with the Miami Heat (38-14) will pose a formidable challenge.
The Heat are winners of their last nine games, and have flaunted a 12.6-point average margin of victory during the stretch. Holding a 5.5-game lead over the Knicks in the Eastern Conference, they trail only San Antonio (44-12) of the Western Conference in winning percentage this season.
On the year, the Heat have posted the league's highest offensive rating (110.1) and best field-goal percentage (49.3 FG%), largely as a result of the improved efficiency of their All-Star trio of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James.
Wade is shooting over 50 percent from the floor (50.4 FG%) for just the second time in his 10-year career.
Bosh is shooting 54.9% from the floor, a drastic improvement over his previous career high of 51.8%.
And James? He's averaging 27.2 points per game while converting at a ridiculous 56.7% clip. The nine-time All-Star is the only player not named O'Neal or Barkley to average at least 27 points while shooting 56.5 percent or better from the floor in the last 30 years; only five players have accomplished the feat in NBA history.
Please take a moment to read that stat again, take a deep breath, and appreciate just how efficient James has been this season.
Indeed, one could make a legitimate case for the 2012 MVP to win the 2013 Most Improved Player award. And he's only improved as the season as progressed.
Over his last nine games, has averaged a remarkable 30.4 points (67.8 FG%, 47.1 3P%), 7.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.
The Sixers currently sit 4.5 games behind the eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks and five games behind the seventh-place Boston Celtics in the East. With 30 games remaining in the 2012-13 regular season, the Sixers know they'll need to rack up some wins over the next few weeks to put themselves in a position to make a late-season playoff push. A home win over the first-place Heat would be a great start to that push.
NOTES ON THE MATCHUP
In Four 2011-12 Meetings
• The Heat averaged 98.8 points on 50.2 FG%, while the Sixers averaged 85.5 ppg on 41.2 FG%
• Miami outrebounded Philadelphia by an average of 5.8 rebounds
• Miami made 65 free throws (on 23.0 attempts per game), while Philly attempted just 60 (15.0 per game)
• The Heat averaged 6.75 blocks per game and the Sixers averaged 9.25 steals per game
• Evan Turner is the Sixers' top returning scorer within the series. He averaged 15.8 points on 52.8 FG% against the Heat last season
• LeBron James averaged 29.3 points on 60.3 FG%, while also averaging 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.25 steals, and 2.00 blocks per game against the Sixers
• Dwyane Wade played just two games against the Sixers last season, averaging 19.0 points