The Philadelphia 76ers had a decent team in 2010-11 and in 2011-12. The Sixers were certainly better in those two seasons than they have been this year, as they are on the outside of the playoff picture. As such, if this year’s Sixers are so poor, how can they beat the Miami Heat when their last two predecessors couldn’t?
The Sixers take on the Heat for the first time this year on Feb. 23, in a case of particularly bad timing. Not only have the Heat won nine straight games while the Sixers are falling apart, Miami has already built up a psychological edge over Philadelphia for two straight seasons.
It started in the 2011 postseason, which was the Heat’s first playoff series with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh together. The Sixers put up a fight for most of that series, yet the Heat found a way to survive in all but one game, dispatching Philadelphia in five games en route to the conference title.
The Sixers were a better team in the 2011-12 season, at least when they didn’t play the Heat. Miami easily swept Philadelphia in four straight games, as it dominated the Sixers even more than it did in the last postseason.
That Sixers club eventually got within one win of facing the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. In contrast, this season’s team is looking more and more like it won’t even make the playoffs. If the last two Philadelphia clubs couldn’t stand up to Miami, what can this poorer version do?
It may have to do something very soon, given that the Sixers also face the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls within the next few days. If Philadelphia can’t win a few games that it isn’t supposed to win, it could fall too far behind the eighth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks to ever catch up. And there is no game that the Sixers aren’t supposed to win more than this one against the Heat.
Philadelphia isn’t just fighting its own struggles or a hotter than usual Miami team, but it is fighting history as well. With 11 straight regular season losses to the Heat -- by Sixers’ squads far more capable than this one -- this game is somehow even more of an uphill battle than it already is.