The Miami Heat have struggled as of late, which may be attributed to injuries or a lack of motivation. But they always seem motivated enough to beat the Sixers, 7 times since last April. Yes, the Sixers and Heat have played one another 8 times in less than a year, with 7 victories going to Miami. A Lou Williams special (the shot that goes in that has no business doing so) sealed a victory for the Sixers in game 4 of the first round series last Spring.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, last year’s events mean nothing compared to this year’s. But what has happened in games 1-3 of this 4-game regular season series* should be relevant to tomorrow night’s contest on slightly less than national television. For now, here’s a review of games 1-3. Stephane will have a preview for you coming up soon.
Game 1 @ Miami
Heat 113 – Sixers 92
What happened? The Sixers hung with the Heat through three quarters, playing a fast-paced style that led to an entertaining first half. But the Sixers could not keep up with Miami – in a fast-paced game, you could do a lot worse than having LeBron James run the floor for long periods of time (Dwyane Wade was injured). The Sixers defense, the best in the league at the current moment and at that point, surrendered 113 points to a Heat team that displayed tremendous ball movement and shot making. Andre Iguodala struggled guarding LeBron one-on-one, which became a theme for the next two meetings.
The only reason the Sixers were competitive early was the presence of rookie Nikola Vucevic, who had 13 points and 9 rebounds in the third quarter when he suffered an injury.
Game 2 @ Wells Fargo Center
Heat 99 – Sixers 79
What happened? The Sixers trailed by only 4 points at halftime and after three quarters. The defense seemed to be playing well enough to justify their league-leading status. Then everything fell apart in the fourth. The Heat converted our misses and turnovers into easy baskets at the other end of the floor. It seemed as if they turned the afterburners on at the beginning of the fourth quarter, while the Sixers, playing with mostly reserves, couldn’t put out the flames. The starters when pressed back into action couldn’t muster anything either.
Meanwhile, Vucevic did not play until garbage time, for unknown reasons at the time, while the starting bigs (Elton Brand and Tony Battie) failed to produce a point between them in nearly 40 minutes of playing time. Against a perimeter-oriented team like Miami, that’s not good at all.
Game 3 @ Wells Fargo Center
Heat 84 – Sixers 78
What happened? The Sixers came out flatter than a pancake, trailing by 27 at halftime, in what seemed to be a harbinger of things to come against teams like, say, Washington. Except the Sixers actually arrived in more than being in the second half, taking the deficit to as little as 4 before succumbing late to Miami’s superior talent. No Sixers player had more than 13 points. Jrue Holiday finished 3-16 on almost entirely jumpers. The offensive numbers across the board were horrendous for the Sixers, mainly because they had 30 first half points. If their defense plays as they did in the second half of this game, the Sixers could compete with Miami tomorrow night.