Sixers succumb to Heat, 111-99

Miami's LeBron James gets to the hoop ahead of Jodie Meeks (left) and Andre Iguodala. James finished with 32 points.
Miami's LeBron James gets to the hoop ahead of Jodie Meeks (left) and Andre Iguodala. James finished with 32 points.
Posted: March 26, 2011

MIAMI - After Friday night's 111-99 loss to the Miami Heat, Elton Brand rehashed a typical play.

Something like Dwyane Wade coming off one on-ball screen, then another, somehow finding the only available angle toward the rim and barely missing a contested layup before another Miami player - in this example, Chris Bosh - comes swooping in for the follow-up slam.

Brand exhaled an exhausted breath as if he had just defended the play that very second, then said, "It's so hard to defend those guys when they're rolling like that.

"The other guys are feeding off of that," Brand continued. "You're trying to stop them, Bosh gets a dunk under the rim because you're trapping Dwyane Wade at half-court."

That was an accurate summary of Friday's fourth quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena.

When things looked dicey for the Heat, they became angry and attacked the rim as if jumpers were for the weak. This metamorphosis happened twice: first in the second quarter, then in the fourth.

The Sixers built leads through steady execution, but lost them because of Miami's bipolar ferocity.

Sixers coach Doug Collins tried to explain the beast that is Miami's offense when that offense is flowing.

"They just went to angle pick-and-rolls and they get you in the trick bag, because if you get strung out - your big guys - it's hard to corral that," Collins said. "Dwyane's the best in the league. If he gets you going downhill, he goes past you; you get out too high, he splits you."

With 10 games remaining in their regular season, the Sixers dropped to 37-35. The Heat improved to 50-22.

In the second quarter, the Sixers built a 16-point lead. The Heat responded with a 23-2 run. In the fourth quarter, the Sixers built an eight-point lead. Miami then went on a 24-5 run.

Wade and LeBron James combined for 71 points, with Wade scoring 39. The Sixers' interior defense could not withstand the charge, getting outrebounded by 49-31. Even Bosh, the third of Miami's Big Three, scored 20 points, more than any Sixers starter.

Sixers reserves Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young combined for 39 points.

The game had a playoff feel.

Miami on a Friday night, a couple of tennis stars in attendance, a sold-out crowd, multiple technical fouls, and a down-to-the-wire finish.

If the season ended today, the Sixers and Heat would meet in the playoffs. And on Friday night, for all but a few minutes of boiling-hot Heat basketball, that looked like it could be an evenly matched series.

"We were right there; it never really got out of hand," Sixers swingman Andre Iguodala said. "We were right there. We need to make a few changes - not changes, but tweaks."

The worry is simple: The Heat's higher gear is much faster and much better than the Sixers' highest gear. And in the playoffs - one assumes, anyway - that gear is more often employed.

"We learned that's going to be the playoff intensity," Brand said. "That's what the intensity is going to be like, when they turned it up."

Yikes.


Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at kfagan@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/DeepSixer3 and read her blog, Deep Sixer, on Philly.com.

 


 

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