Sixers looking for another fast start in Game 5

Lou Williams exults after nailing a three-pointer.
Lou Williams exults after nailing a three-pointer. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 27, 2011

For the 76ers to have any chance of extending their season, they have to do two things Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena: start with a lot of energy, then somehow sustain it.

"We need to play all 48 minutes, especially going down on the road in an elimination game," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of Game 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Miami Heat. The Heat lead, three games to one.

"We don't want to dig ourselves a hole," Collins said.

Actually, the Sixers' first-quarter success against the Heat was a hot topic after Tuesday's practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Other than in Game 2, the Sixers led at the end of the opening quarters. And they didn't just lead; they dominated the first 12 minutes of action.

On Sunday - in their lone series win - the Sixers led by 23-8 at one point before ending the quarter with a 12-point cushion.

In all, the Sixers have outscored the Heat, 101-75, in the four first quarters combined.

"I think a lot of it is energy, and I think a lot of it is preparation," Jrue Holiday said. "I think when Miami comes out, they don't really come out with the same spunk or fire that we do. So we tend to jump on them early."

But for the most part, that's where the electricity ends for the Sixers in this series.

Capitalizing on its opponent's poor shooting, Miami has routinely erased sizable deficits in the second quarter.

An inability to get to the foul line, lack of fastbreak points, and costly turnovers are also hindering the Sixers.

The Heat have made more foul shots (95) than the Sixers have attempted (70). The Sixers are averaging just 13 fastbreak points, down from an NBA third-best 17.6 in the regular season. And they are committing 11.2 turnovers a game.

"The biggest thing is taking care of the ball," Andre Iguodala said. "When they bring in their second unit, they go small, which makes them a little quicker. And they cover the areas, defensively, a little better.

"So you can't turn the ball over, and you have to make them work and not look for the easy baskets."

But if Game 2 is any indication, the Sixers must jump out to a first-quarter lead just to keep things competitive. The Heat had a six-point cushion at the end of the first quarter during that game and went on to take a commanding, 94-73 victory in what was the only blowout of the series.

"In every game, if you give yourself a chance to win early, you are good down the stretch," Iguodala said. "Hopefully, we can continue that trend."

Elton Brand added: "We just want to get off to a good start, just for your whole psyche. You feel better about the game."


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-7081 or kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pompeysgridlock Read his blog at www.philly.com/OwlsInq

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