The blue-collar, unselfish, underdog Sixers will depart for the glitz and glamour of South Beach on Friday. The national spotlight will be waiting for them.
“It’s going to be Hollywood,” said coach Doug Collins. “It’s going to be the place to be.”
The “place to be” isn’t a location the Sixers are used to. They ranked 25th in attendance this season. They played exactly one game on national television. The Heat have two players averaging at least 25 points per game, where the Sixers’ leading scorer — Elton Brand — scores 15 points per night.
Then consider that four of the Sixers’ top eight players have never been to the playoffs. Starters Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks and Spencer Hawes will pop their playoff cherries in the pressure cooker that “The Decision” created.
“It’s going to be a new experience for our guys,” Collins said. “But, it’s good … we’ll learn more about ourselves in a short period of time. Hopefully, it’ll be a long period of time.”
So the Sixers return to their familiar role as a team with a chip on its shoulder. They seemed to lose that chip after all but clinching a playoff berth a few weeks back.
“We were at the point where we weren’t expected to win any games and then got to the point where we were expected to win every game, no matter who we played,” said Elton Brand.