Heat bounce back to snap 76ers win streak: Lead by an outstanding effort by Wade, the series is now tied 1-1

Connor McKay, Asst. Sports Editor

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      The first round of the NBA playoffs has gotten more interesting as the Miami Heat have proven themselves a worthy opponent, recover from their humiliating loss in game one. Led by all-star Dwyane Wade, the Heat overcame an initial deficit and broke the 17-game win streak the Sixers, giving them a playoff loss on their home court.

     The Wells Fargo Center was packed Monday night, as 20,753 fans flocked to Philadelphia to watch their team try and continue their franchise high win streak and attain another win in the series. Notable attendees included alumni Allen Iverson, as well as comedian/actor Kevin Hart to watch their favorite team play ball. The roar of the crowd was definitely heard, as the city of Philadelphia looks for another title after bringing home the Lombardi Trophy and the NCAA National Championship.

     Lead by Head Coach Brett Brown, the 76ers were hot off their last win. The first quarter began with tight, fast-paced play. Both teams were able to find their first points inside, but Miami was making use of quick passes outside to take a minor lead. Dario Saric fired back with some unbelievable layups to keep his team in the game. By the 7:30 mark, Miami was only up three points 11-8. Up to this point, their defensive effort kept all of Philadelphia’s points inside. The physicality of this game would begin early as well, as both teams were fouling on the outside to keep the inside game from happening.

      Philadelphia took their first lead of the game with a three-point shot with about six and a half minutes left in the first quarter. The Sixers’ defense was proving too much for Miami as they could not get anything inside to go in, so they were forced to use shooting from the outside. Ben Simmons, coming off a great first game, took up his role again to be a driving leader for the Philadelphia offense.

      While the 76ers were having great success at drawing fouls, three-point shot success gave them a more commanding lead as the first quarter winded down. Philadelphia was shooting well from the line, making four of five free throws and making 10 second-chance points compared to Miami’s zero. Wade’s effort was helping Miami stay alive, but was not enough as the first quarter ended with Philadelphia up 29-22.

     The second quarter proved to be very different from the action-packed first 10 minutes, but proved to be arguably the most important. Miami came out to the second quarter ready to play, with an aggressive offense that was finally able to find success inside. The Heat retook the lead at the 8:31 mark, leading 30-29. Wade proved to be the deadliest weapon in Miami’s arsenal as he was able to put up 15 points with three rebounds in only ten minutes of playing time.

      The 76ers seemed to be in a funk as their play slowed down. Simple mistakes also led to quick points as Miami took their largest lead of the night by five points with a little over five and a half minutes left in the second quarter.

     Philadelphia saw some fire return to them late in the half, as a three-pointer from J.J. Reddick and free throw success by Simmons lowered the distance between the teams, making it 36-42. Miami was not slowing down by any means. Despite drawing smart fouls and sending shooters to the line, it was nowhere near enough and Miami was up at the half 56-42. Miami absolutely outplayed Philadelphia in this game-defining quarter as they outscored the Sixers 34-13.

     The third quarter brought out a more aggressive Philadelphia team, as a quick 9-2 run early on brought some life back to the Wells Fargo Center. Miami was able to utilize their prior lead and kept the 76ers at bay, restricting them to a 10-point game. The tension between these teams became more visible as foul trouble plagued both teams, sending shooters to the line on both sides.

     Miami was killing any morale Philadelphia had. Their three-point shooting success proved frustrating to the 76ers. Simmons was doing his best with inside points, but the 71-59 lead at the 5:46 mark was too much for him. He found himself taken out of the game because of a fourth personal foul, but would return later. He would finish the game with 24 points, eight assists, and nine rebounds.

     As the Miami offense was devastating the Philadelphia defense, so too were the Heat defenders. Having adapted to stop Philadelphia’s success inside, Miami’s defense was blocking any shots made inside the box and the third quarter ended with Miami still up 86-75.

      The Heat began the electric fourth quarter playing conservatively in an effort to control their lead. This would prove to be ineffective as this desperate Philadelphia team slowly kept back up on them, thanks to three-point success from Saric, and an arena full of 20,000 screaming fans pulling for their team.

     With only 8:28 left to play in the game, Philadelphia brought the game down to a six-point contest, 93-87. As seen before, Miami quickly responded to this with a three-pointer and left this Philadelphia team more desperate. The Sixers did all they could, bringing Miami’s lead down to two points and Wells Fargo was standing in excitement.

     Miami’s offense, led by the outstanding efforts of Wade, used quick points to retake their lead with around three minutes left and forced Philadelphia to throw up rushed threes that had no chance to go in. Wade killed the morale of the 76ers with his great performance. He scored 28 points with seven rebounds and three assists. The rushed efforts of the 76ers were quickly shut down by Miami, and the buzzer sounded with the Heat emerging victorious, 113-103.

     Ending a 17-game win streak, the Heat look forward to playing their next two games in their home court of Miami. Philadelphia has had a history of playing poorly in Miami, so it will be interesting to see how this series plays out. The next game will be played Thursday night at 7 pm.
It is still unkown whether or not center Joel Embiid will start for the Sixers, but it is likely after he missed the first two games due to injury.