No, not the 76ers.
Miami already survived the Sixers’ top effort in Game 1 and held on for the victory.
Bosh wants to absorb the atmosphere at a hostile court like in Philly—from the rowdy fans in the rare full house dressed in matching T-shirts, to the pyrotechnics, and a new pregame video that incorporates live performance elements.
“I’m sure they’ll be ready. They have a reputation, so I expect them to really own up to it,” Bosh said. “We’ve prepared ourselves. We just have to go in there with thick skin like we always have and let the opposing boos really, really motivate us.”
Oh, boy. Just what the Heat need is more motivation.
The Heat beat the 76ers in a close Game 1 and destroyed them in Game 2.
So unless the trio all come down with some sort of mystery ailment that puts them on the bench for Thursday’s Game 3, the Sixers are still in serious trouble. Home court or not.
“We’ve bounced back, we’ve shown resiliency,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “I think for our guys, if they could just come out and see the ball in the basket, it would be such a lift for us.”
The Sixers are viewed as little more than a speed bump on Miami’s way to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat have said all the right things. The playoffs don’t start until a team wins on the road. The Philly fans are some of the toughest around. No game is harder to win than Game 3.
Give the Heat credit, they believe in good sportsmanship.
The Heat are likely among the few people not wearing a Philadelphia 76ers uniform who won’t concede that this 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference playoff series is Miami’s to lose.
Collins said his team remains upbeat. But unless they can find a way to shut down James, Wade, and Bosh at the same time, the odds of winning a game remain uphill.
“In Game 3, I think their will is at stake here,” Bosh said. “They’re going to come out fighting, they’re going to come out really swinging, especially with that home energy behind them.
The Sixers won 26 home games this year—one less than their overall total from a year ago. The Heat haven’t flinched as the NBA’s top touring act. They led the East and tied for the NBA lead with 28 road victories.
Talent always finds a way to win out over location.
Win Games 3 and 4 in Philly and the series is over.
The Sixers have adopted “showyaluv” as their season slogan. The Heat are ready to “showdabroom.”
“If I came up here and said, ‘We’re trying to win one,’ then people would look at us crazy,” James said. “We’re trying to win both, but Game 3 is the most important one.”
The Sixers had a surprise guest at Thursday’s practice: Chairman Ed Snider, who founded the Flyers, arrived to applause in his team sweats. He watched practice and chatted with Collins before leaving for a scheduled 4 p.m. flight to watch the Flyers play Game 4 of their playoff series in Buffalo.
“We’ve got a really good organization now, the best we’ve had in 15 years,” Snider said.
That starts at the top with team president Rod Thorn, general manager Ed Stefanski, and Collins. Collins, who refused to take credit for the Sixers turnaround, thrust himself into contention for coach of the year honors.
He took a Sixers roster that made only minor changes from last year’s 27-win roster and turned them into a 41-win playoff team.
The Sixers, though, have a roster full of really nice players. Most teams would love to have Lou Wiliams, Thaddeus Young(notes) and Andre Iguodala(notes). They’re just not the type of franchise players a team can build a title contender around.
In other words, they’re not The Big 3.
If the Sixers are going to contend against Miami, Boston and Orlando, they’ll have to find that LeBron-esque superstar.
“We’ve gone to 41. Now 41 to 50 is another jump,” Collins said. “To go plus-14 is big. To go plus-nine is huge. You can’t do that by contracting. You’ve got to do that by adding. Sometimes you can add by subtracting. But eventually you’ve got to add by adding. We’re at a point now where we’ve got add by adding.”
But that time is not now.
“We can’t push fast forward,” Collins said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
The Sixers did not boast of “you’ve got to believe” comebacks or sell a fanbase on “anything can happen.” They respect the Heat too much and know—as Collins said after Game 2—the Heat are the better team.
They’d like to simply start small with one win at home.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this story.