The Miami Heat nearly coughed up a 16-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 2, but timely plays from Dwyane Wade helped them even up their series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ 17-game winning streak is over, courtesy of 36-year-old Dwyane Wade. Wade was brilliant in Game 2 with 28 points off the bench, and his string of timely plays as the Miami Heat were in the midst of a fourth-quarter collapse resulted in a 113-103 victory and a 1-1 series heading to Miami.
The Heat fell behind by nine points early after Goran Dragic went to the bench with two fouls, but Wade turned the tide with a spark off the bench. Miami’s defense suffocated Philadelphia in the second quarter to the tune of 13 points, resulting in a 14-point halftime lead for the road team. The Heat avoided one of their patented third-quarter collapses by answering every Sixers run, and it looked like the game was over after a quick 5-0 run put Miami up 91-76 early in the fourth quarter.
Dario Saric and Ben Simmons had other plans. Philly turned up the intensity and went on a 21-7 run to make it a two-point game with 4:29 to play. The Sixers got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead as Wade returned to the floor after a quick breather.
That’s when Wade made the play of the game that spurred the Heat’s final charge:
Wade followed that up with a key assist, rebound and bucket to secure the win.
Dragic bounced back with 20 points, while James Johnson stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block. Johnson made all seven of his shots.
This was Philly’s first loss since March 13 against the Indiana Pacers.
Wade stepped into the time machine. Wade may not have a lot left in the tank, but every once in a while he reminds everybody why he’s a future Hall of Famer. The Heat appeared to be in danger of getting blown out again when Father Prime rescued them with a bevy of buckets off the bench in the first half.
And there were some tough buckets. Wade made eight of his nine shot attempts in the first half, with five of those coming from mid-range and most of them of the contested variety. He poured in 21 points in the opening half as Miami flipped the script following the poor start.
Wade cooled off a bit in the second half, but two of his three makes were contested mid-range jumpers, including this absurd one over an elite defender in Robert Covington:
Wade put the final nail in the coffin with a nasty step-back jumper from the right wing to cap off his throwback performance, which also featured stellar defense throughout the night. He was a game-best plus-16.
The Sixers’ 3-point shooting regressed to the mean. Philly shot 18 of 28 on 3-pointers in Game 1. The Sixers weren’t going to replicate that in Game 2, but they went to the other end of the spectrum entirely by shooting 7-for-36 from distance. Covington and J.J. Redick combined to shoot 2 of 16.
Philly missed some open 3-pointers, but Miami’s physical defense deserves credit for disrupting shooters. The Sixers’ shot selection was also questionable, especially as they tried to cap off their comeback. Covington, Saric, Redick and Marco Belinelli all rushed up ugly shots from long range when there was still time left for better looks.
Joel Embiid was sorely missed. With the Heat ramping up their pressure defense and the Sixers bricking so many 3s, the absence of Embiid to help the offense produce more efficiently in the halfcourt was notable. The second quarter was extremely ugly as Miami junked up Philly’s offense by putting a ton of ball pressure on Simmons instead of letting him get ahead of steam to create offense for himself and others. Justise Winslow only scored two points, but he made his presence felt with hounding defense on the rookie.
Simmons found his groove in the second half as he got more aggressive and became more of a scorer. He finished with 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds while shooting 10 of 17 from the field. But the second-quarter drought put the Sixers in a huge hole that they couldn’t dig themselves out of.
Embiid is obviously also a major factor on the other end. Brett Brown went to Ersan Ilyasova to start the game, but the veteran forward wasn’t as effective as in Game 1, even though he still finished with a double-double. Brown turned back to Amir Johnson to start the second half, and neither player offers the imposing defensive presence down low that Embiid does.
Embiid appears antsy to return to the floor, so don’t be surprised to see him in Thursday’s Game 3. Maybe that will mean more minutes for Hassan Whiteside, who again struggled and only played 15 minutes on Monday.