The Sixers opened up against the Heat with arguably the best quarter and a half of the entire season.  Over that span the Sixers jumped out to a 42-26 lead with under seven minutes remaining in the first half.  Causing turnovers, attacking the paint and controlling the tempo, the 7-6 seemed destined to steal a victory and avoid being swept in the regular season series by Miami.

Instead, the Miami Heat, led by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, closed out the second quarter with a 25-8 run.  Each point was scored by one of the big three who joined forces this off-season in one of the most highlighted franchise turnovers in the history of the NBA. 

After a scrappy first quarter when we were impressively able to force six turnovers that turned into 10 points, our defense began to slow down as the Miami beast was finally awoken.  Closing out the halves proved to be our Achilles heel in the Friday night contest. 

A scuffling third and early fourth quarter characterized the Sixers fight with the third place team in the Eastern Conference.  With a 90-83 lead and nine minutes remaining, our beloved squad collapsed under the duress of D-Wade’s insurmountable killer instinct.  Wade, along with his collaborator LeBron, managed to dismantle an immature team en route to a 28-9 run and 111-99 victory. 

If the season ended today these two teams would meet in the postseason as the sixth and third seed.  With the defeat, Doug Collins’ ball club drops to 37-35 after winning three of the previous four.  On the other side of the spectrum, Wade’s Heat are now cruising with a four game winning streak and have eclipsed the 50 win mark with 22 losses. 

Miami’s stardom overwhelmed the Sixers down the stretch.  Even when the ball game was close and within reach, the Heat had go-to scorers who were simply unstoppable.  LeBron James scored 32 points and grabbed 10 boards; Wade had 39 points, 11 rebounds and 8 dimes; Bosh tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds.  Combining those three together makes up for 91 points of the Heat’s 111 total.  Not to mention each had a double-double.  We were star-struck, unable to overcome the superior talent and dominance of the South Beach posse. 

Our best athletes cannot compete with their elite.  Iguodala has put together an impressive year on the defensive side of the ball and as an all-around “5-tool” player.  Iguodala sucked on Friday night — on both ends of teh court, there is no sugar coating it.  Also, the wise veteran Elton Brand, whose has resurrected his career under his new head coach, was useless for much of the ball game.

Veterans are suppose to respond in monumental games with high stakes and pride on the line.  Our veterans, who are the most vital players to this roster, totaled 18 points on 7-20 shooting.  Brand was useless against Bosh in the paint and even more hopeless when attempting to slide over and help as Dwayne and LeBron penetrated the lane.  AI9’s night was epitomized on a single play which was discussed via e-mail by us here at Philadunkia:  That play involved a sequence where Wade stole a pass by Andre and then took it coast to coast for a slam on Dre’s head.  It really showed how Iguodala is just a very good player and nothing more.  Yup, says it all in that play.  As great as Andre has been all season long, tonight he was exposed by an elite team. 

Although Brand and Iguodala did not have their best showing, there were some highlights from other members of the 7-6, in particular, from the bench.  Lou Williams hit some big trey-balls down the stretch, including a crucial eight point run in the third.  Lou-Will finished the night with a team-high 24 points on 9-12 shooting including four long distance bombs.  His partner-in-crime Thad Young was effective slashing the bucket.  Young had 15 points on the night as well as eight rebounds.  The Sixers bench outscored Miami’s reserves 41 (ET threw in a bucket) to 13.  Yes, they did play great, and have had a fair share of big moments, but moving forward their consistency will be key for any remote chance of postseason success.

Reflecting back on what I’ve written, I can’t tell if I’m being too harsh, or not harsh enough?  The team did play bad while collapsing pitifully late.  Every fan’s emotions were tugged after such a hopeful start that seemed too good to be true, yet so exhilarating at the same time.  However, it is just one regular season game when looking at the big picture.  Or, is it a critical game to build momentum towards a playoff push?

If these teams meet in the near future for a seven game series, it may be exhausting from a Philadelphia standpoint.  All the hope that was built after overcoming a 3-13 start will now nip us in the rear. 

Not that the season hasn’t been great (it has) but as shown by tonight’s game, our talent level is simply outmatched against elite teams.  

So let’s pray that we can climb into the 5th seed and get Orlando in the 1st round.  Because as tonight proved, a series vs. the Heat could be a demoralizing end to this season.

Philadunkia Notes:

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in nearly 29 years that, in a non-overtime game, a team had a pair of players with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds and another with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Prior to Friday, the last team to do that was the Nuggets on Dec. 23, 1982 (Alex English, 43/11; Kiki Vandeweghe, 30/12; Dan Issel, 25/10).
  • It was the second time this season, but just the fifth time since April 1, 2006 that three teammates had 20+ points and 10+ rebounds in a single game. Prior to Friday, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom accomplished the feat against the Suns in triple overtime just this past Tuesday.
  • James, Wade and Bosh combined for 47 of the Heat’s 51 first-half points.
  • You may have noticed that Nocioni got minutes in the first half in Evan Turner’s usual spot.  According to Collins’ post game comments this move was discussed and planned by he, Thorn and Stefanski.  ET will likely see a reduced role for the rest of the season.
  • Jamaal Magloire clearly committed a flagrant foul on Dre’s dunk attempt during at the 6:19 mark of the 2nd quarter.  He made no attempt for the ball at all and was clearly trying to send a message.  The League should review the play and upgrade the foul.  That wasn’t the only call that Miami’s way last night if you know what we mean.  
  • Of course has the highlights of the Sixers loss in Miami.

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