COMMENTARY | On paper, it makes absolutely no sense to think that the Philadelphia 76ers have any chance to defeat the Miami Heat. But the game isn't being played on paper, it's being played at the Wells Fargo Center on March 13.
And that's the first of several reasons the Sixers not only have a chance to snap Miami's 19-game winning streak, but have a very good chance to do so.
The crowd will be as rowdy as it's been since the Heat's last visit on February 23, when tickets were at a premium to watch LeBron James need just three quarters of playing time to lead his team to a 114-90 victory. Many season-ticket holders will look at this game against Miami as the last one of the season that they'll go out of their way to attend. Tickets were available on StubHub! for less than $25 on the day of the game and the warmer weather might mean longer tailgates, which will only add "fuel" to the boisterous crowd. Advantage Sixers.
But that's just one reason the Sixers have a very good chance to win. The second reason is they have nothing to lose.
At this point in the season nobody expects them to win. If they do, it's like their Super Bowl. If they don't, it might cost them, at most, one ping-pong ball in the lottery. It's like when the junior varsity scrimmages the varsity. Or the Sixers play the Heat. Advantage Sixers.
To the Heat, a loss means nothing. They won't face the Sixers in the playoffs and so don't have to worry about giving them a psychological edge. Instead, they might look at this game as a chance to play the starters a little less and gear up for more important games that lie ahead against potential playoff opponents. Advantage Sixers.
And speaking of resting up, that's the third reason the Sixers can win. They've slept in their own beds eight of the last 10 nights, while Miami is playing their second game in as many days. Advantage Sixers.
The fourth reason the Sixers have a very good chance to beat the Heat is that they are coming off perhaps one of their best all-around efforts of the season against the Brooklyn Nets. In that 106-97 win, the team did what even the most casual fan could figure out they needed to do: made the extra pass instead of settling for quick jump shots from just inches inside the three-point arc. Advantage Sixers.
Finally, center Spencer Hawes - aka "I was only supposed to back up Andrew Bynum" - is coming off what was without a doubt his best game of the season on both ends of the court against the Nets. Hawes had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Not only could another "Bynum-who?" game for Hawes result in a victory for the Sixers, but if he has another career game, the Sixers might have to add yet another bobblehead night to their schedule. Advantage Sixers.
"Minus the streak it would be good to get a win against them," Hawes told reporters following the game-day shoot around. "… We'll take a win against anybody and so that one would probably have a little more meaning."
The Sixers' lone All-Star, Jrue Holiday, also felt good about his team's chances.
"The first two times we played them I thought we played really well," he told reporters. "We definitely have a good chance of breaking their streak."
If the Heat do win, they would join the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers, 2008 Houston Rockets and 1971 Milwaukee Bucks as the only teams to win 20 consecutive games. The '72 Lakers hold the record with 33 straight victories.
The Sixers have lost both games they've played against Miami this season and so it's going to take an outstanding effort for them to halt Miami's streak. But unlike the previous two games against the Heat, this time, there just might be that perfect storm of advantages.
Jon Buzby is an award-winning sportswriter from Delaware and has followed the Sixers since 1976. He contributes regularly to multiple newspapers, magazines and websites. Follow him @JonBuzby on Twitter.