The South Beach Posse are simply too good for the 76ers.  There is no other way to put it.  You cannot sugar coat it or deny it.  Doug Collins’ team has no shot.  Even when the Sixers build a lead, play solid defense and seem to control the tempo for most of the game, the Heat buckle down in the critical minutes to roll out with a victory. 

Despite another hot first quarter start; despite leading heading into the fourth quarter; despite Jrue Holiday excelling by hitting four three-pointers contributing to 20 of his points, Elton Brand tallying a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists, Spencer Hawes impressively scoring 12 points and Lou Williams finally putting the ball in the basket; the Sixers lost as they’re far inferior to the star-driven Heat.    

This game was a must-win if he Sixers had any hope of making this series competitive.  With the loss, a sweep now seems inevitable for the 76ers.

Miami improved to 3-0 in the series and 6-0 overall in 2010-11 when you include the regular season games vs. the Sixers.    In fact, not only have the Sixers struggled this season against Miami, it extends to last year when we came up short four games against a LeBron and Bosh-less squad.  The old Heat had our number, the improved Heat, own us. 

With the 100-94 victory, Miami looks poised to make a deep run at the NBA Finals.  We all assumed they’d be in contention, but with the Bulls barely squeezing by Indiana, and Boston on its last leg without Kendrick Perkins, the Heat may now be the favorite to win the East.  It’s hard to imagine anyone stopping Dwyane Wade and LeBron James together.  Oh yeah, they have a perennial all-star in Chris Bosh too. 

Dwayne Wade was phenomenal to say the least.  His near triple-double — 32 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists — led the way as he dictated the game by attacking the rim and getting to the line 12 times where connected on all of them.  His partner-in-crime, LeBron James,  scored 24 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and dished six assists in 44 minutes played.  James was booed nearly every time he possessed the rock by the raucous WFC crowd.  However, the villain — LeBron — has seemed to embrace the boos on the road this season as he’s scored more and shot better away from home. 

Wade and LeBron were amazing as expected, although their usual dominance was not necessarily what doomed the 7-6.   Instead, our Achilles heel at the Wells-Fargo Center was rebounding.  We gave up an astonishing 20 offensive rebounds — six to Dwayne Wade, eight to Zydrunas Ilgauskas — and got killed on the glass overall giving up 50 boards to our measly 34.  Even the tiny Mike Bibby towered over Spencer Hawes late in the third for an offensive grab.  The 20 offensive rebounds is a Miami franchise record for the postseason. 

Along with dominating the glass, the Heat really excelled in the fourth quarter defensively.  Entering the final quarter with a two point lead, the opposition slowed down the Sixers by solidifying there defense in the paint.  Our Sixers were taken away from what had worked efficiently early on.  There was no more easy buckets around the rim or layups in transition.  And when things go sour on offense in the winding minutes, what do you need?  An effective isolation scorer who can takeover, which we don’t have.  With all that being said, there was still a gleam of hope at the tail end.

Miami was up 98-94 when LeBron James bricked a fadeaway jumper instead of attacking the much smaller Jrue Holiday, who had been switched after a pick-and-roll, that led to a Thaddeus Young rebound.  Young quickly passed to Jrue Holiday with 15 seconds on the clock, who then confusingly looked for guidance from head coach Doug Collins.  Jrue thought Doug would call a timeout, but instead Doug signaled in a panic fashion for Jrue to get up the court and get a shot off.  He dished the ball across the half-court line to Andre Iguodala who attacked the foul-line (not the rim), jumped up in mid-air and threw the ball to Lou Williams.  What ensued?  A contested 27 foot three-point leaner that barely nicked the front of the rim. 

That horrendous shot from Lou-Will was taken with five ticks remaining.  Why Doug Collins did not take a timeout is mind-baffling?  His young team ended up going down the court aimlessly, killing 11 seconds and could only muster a desperation heave.  If Collins had called a timeout, set up a play, the players would’ve understood what to do with a chance to cut the game to 1 with at least 10 seconds left.  Nope, in place of a timeout our inexperience and immaturity was exposed by a pitiful possession that could’ve narrowed a tight gap.  Coach Collins, you’ve done a fabulous job this season, but that right there was the wrong move.  Our boys were lost. 

I’m not saying that mistake was a series-changer, or game-changer for that matter, but it would’ve at least given us hope to steal a miraculous win.  Just think: A well drawn-up play from the head honcho that narrows it to 98-96, with around 10 seconds remaining.  Worst-case scenario we would’ve at least gotten a better shot. 

You can’t discredit the Heat though, they are the better team with two of the greatest players of our generation.  Their on a mission to win an NBA title and our hopeless Sixers are standing in their way. 

Philadunkia Notes:

  • After being phased out of the offense in the first two games, the veteran Elton Brand looked great with 21 points on 9-15 shooting.  But we think the Sixers did not go to him enough in the 2nd half.  After showing a nice scoring touch in the 1st stanza (13 points at half), Brand got off only 6 FGA in the 2nd half.  The Sixers should have gotten him more touches.
  • How about Jrue Holiday?  He’s really coming to play in the postseason averaging 17 points per game and has hit at least a pair of three-pointers in each. 
  • Every basket for Spencer Hawes seemed monumental.  His 12 points seemed like 28 after last game’s debacle.  
  • Jodie Meeks in March: 14.4 points per game, 2.9 three-pointers per game and 46 percent from beyond-the-arc.  Man did he cool off.  In April and the series, he’s averaging under 34 percent from three and less than eight points per contest. 
  • Evan Turner, I’m so sorry they make you guard LeBron.  It really is not fair. 
  • Returning from injury, Lou Williams’ five field goals in game three beats games one and two’s combined field goals made. 
  • Where was Thaddeus Young?  Did he not realize we were playing desperation basketball against an elite team?  Only four points on eight field goals after attempting 20 in each of the first two matches and scoring a combined 38. 
  • For Andre Iguodala, this has been a longgggg series.  Also if you needed further evidence that AI9 is just a very solid NBA player, nothing more (and there is nothing wrong with that…) then simply look at his stat line in this series — 6 ppg. on 28% shooting. 

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