This was a blow to the Sixers' faith. Sure, the impossible could still become possible - after all the next two games are at the Wells Fargo Center - but hope sure does look like a receding beacon.
Miami won the first two games of this first-round, best-of-seven series that now swings back to Philadelphia.
"We were in tune from the start," said Miami's LeBron James, who scored a game-high 29 points.
And the Sixers were not.
Something was amiss with the Sixers from the start: Within a minute of tipoff, they were exchanging bothered comments about the necessary cuts on offense. They were forced into mostly difficult long-range jumpers, couldn't make any early free throws, and finished the first quarter 4 for 20 from the floor.
"I thought our poor shooting really discouraged us," said Sixers coach Doug Collins.
The Sixers scored 13 points in the first quarter, 18 in the second, 21 in the third, and 21 in the fourth.
"We got away with a lot of mistakes during the season, but we're not getting away with it in the playoffs," explained Sixers swingman Andre Iguodala, who has scored nine points combined over the first two games of this series.
During the first quarter of Saturday's opening game, the Sixers scored 31 points and shot over 60 percent from the floor.
"They punched us in the face and got us on our heels," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said of the series' first 12 minutes.
Ironically, it might have been the worst thing the Sixers could have done: clobber the sleeping monster so early in the duel. In the seven quarters since, the Sixers haven't scored more than 21 points in any quarter. The Heat have shifted gears and the Sixers, truth be told, don't actually possess that higher gear.
"I haven't shot an open shot all series," said Iguodala. "Every time you get the ball you got a guy in front of you, and when you get past that guy, there's another one there."
Miami big man Chris Bosh called his team's defense the "best of the season." All of this even with one tormented teammate: Dwyane Wade played 34 minutes despite being knocked out of Sunday's practice and not being able to eat due to a migraine.
"This series hasn't started yet," Spoelstra continued, adding that until one team wins a game on hostile territory, no playoff series has begun. "For us, that's our mind-set."
And what might be the Sixers mind-set, knowing their best does not compete with Miami's best? "We have to continue to fight," said Sixers guard Lou Williams.
In this they've had much practice.
Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/DeepSixer3 and read her blog, Deep Sixer, on Philly.com