By Sean Kennedy
The Sixers win over Miami back in October felt like a long time ago even before Friday night’s rematch took place. After the Heat methodically dismantled the Sixers in a 101-86 Miami victory, it felt like that other game took place in an alternate universe as well. Judging from what took place in Philadelphia most recently, any contest between these two teams that doesn’t result in a Miami victory, just violates the laws of physics as I understand them.
The Sixers improbably jumped out to a 19-0 lead in the teams’ first meeting, and Miami wasted no time making sure no such thing happened again, jumping out to a double-digit lead two-thirds of the way through the first quarter. The Heat were moving the ball as quickly and effectively as you’re likely to come across as an NBA fan, assisting on 30 of their 38 made field goals for the game (with a percentage that was even higher than that in the early going). Miami eventually went cold from the outside later on or the outcome could have been much worst, but they hit 5-9 from three in the first quarter to help jump out to that early lead.
Chris Bosh was a monster for Miami throughout the game. The third banana of the nominal ‘Big 3’ was the best player on the court Friday night, getting open for his mid-range jumper that he hits as well as anyone in the league, in addition to making sharp cuts to the basket and finishing off passes from his teammates driving the baseline. Bosh finished the game with 25 points and 5 blocks, the first time in his career he’s reached those totals in both categories.
LeBron James nearly had a triple-double with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists, but it was about the quietest such stat line you’ll ever come across. James was generally content to find his teammates for open shots and cruise to a victory until he got into a strange pissing match with Brandon Davies of all people in the fourth quarter. He seemed to take offense that the Sixers would have the gall to guard him with Davies, so he made it his personal mission to score on him every time down the court, which he did for 10 straight points. It wasn’t like Davies was playing bad defense, but it looked like an older brother just abusing his kid brother in one-on-one after he said something to piss him off.
The sad part was that the Heat didn’t play especially well by their standards but the Sixers did everything possible to ensure they lost the game. The team committed 23 turnovers, some caused by the defensive intensity of Miami, but many other just dumb, ‘Sixersy’ turnovers. Additionally, they couldn’t find the ocean from a cruiseliner, shooting 2-20 from three and an awful 22-37 from the foul line. The Sixers starters lacked any sort of fire in this game with Michael Carter-Williams being completely taken out of the game by the Heat after his explosion against them in their initial meeting. The rookie had possibly his worst game as a pro with just 7 points and 2 assists against 5 turnovers. Brett Brown opted to sit the starters for a large portion of the second half, both because the Sixers play again Saturday night in Chicago, and because the bench guys were just playing with more energy. Let’s hope the main guys for Philadelphia can right the ship in a hurry against the Bulls.
- It was another mixed bag for Dewayne Dedmon in his second game with the club. He made a couple mistakes you might expect from a guy that’s only been playing ball for a few years. After one Heat foul shot, he went right towards the rim rather than getting a body on his man, and naturally the ball went just over his head to Rashard Lewis. Dedmon also had a lane violation to negate a made free throw for the Sixers. However, he scored his first NBA points with a nice-looking face-up jumper along the baseline late in the third quarter and a couple possessions later, he made a nice rejection of a Norris Cole drive in the lane. Dedmon finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds and didn’t look out of place on the court.
- I always rag on him when he does terribly, so I suppose I have to recognize Brandon Davies when he plays well. Disregarding the sequence against LeBron, because come on, it’s LeBron, Davies probably had his best game of the season, with 9 points and 4 rebounds (3 offensive). The rookie actually a very pretty post move for a bucket in the first quarter and finished well after making some nice cuts around the basket. More games like this and Davies will stop being my go-to guy for ragging on when things go bad for the Sixers bench group.
- It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned it but it bears discussion again of just how good Brett Brown is at dialing up great plays out of a stoppage or timeout. Tonight, on the very first play of the second half, he diagrammed a gorgeous sets of motions and screens to free up a wide-open alley-oop for Spencer Hawes. I wouldn’t have minded the play being drawn up for someone with more than a 5″ vertical but you take what you can get.
While Carter-Williams was awful, some of the other young guys like Davies and Dedmon actually showed a pulse. The old guard certainly didn’t get the majority of the minutes as the Sixers lineup often consisted of Tony Wroten and 4 undrafted guys who’ve barely played in the NBA. Going up against multiple future hall-of-famers, that was more than enough from the tanking perspective. 4/5 tanks