By: Kylan Watson
As the second-round match-up in the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers switches to Philadelphia. The Sixers wanted to regain some momentum against the Heat who have rolled to a commanding two-to-nothing series lead. Philly was able to do just enough tonight to keep the Heat at bay. They used a fourth quarter offensive barrage to take their first victory of the series 99-79.
Both teams looked like they only had a day off before this game. Nobody could hit a shot early in the game. The Sixers were able to find their rhythm later in the first half. They were able to hit their shots specifically from beyond the arc. Throughout the first two games they only hit 22% of their three-pointers. Tonight, they hit 48.5% of their three-pointers. Danny Green was on fire from beyond the arc tonight. Playing in front of some friendly faces really helped his shooting as he hit seven/nine threes in tonight’s game. He scored 21-points (season high). He had been cold from the three-point line but if he can take this and bring it to game four on Sunday night the Sixers may have a chance to even up this series.
The Heat on the other hand were rattled early on in this game. Philly was able to outhustle and out-physical them. Miami was not able to have free reign to attack the paint with the return of Joel Embiid to Philly’s line-up. The Heat were forced to operate in the half-court, and they did not have it tonight. They only hit 23.3% of their three-pointers. Jimmy Butler led them and did all he could to keep them in the game. He scored 33-points (game high) and he made Philly pay for giving him any room to get a shot up. He got Philly’s defenders in foul trouble. However, the Sixers were able to turn the heat up on defense and keep everyone else from hurting them, and Butler could not lead his team to victory.
Heading into game four Philly will need to continue to play stifling perimeter defense to force Miami to rely on their perimeter shooting instead of attacking the paint and getting offensive rebounds. Additionally, the Sixers will need another balanced scoring night so the Heat defenders cannot focus on one player and continue to make them pay for double and triple-teaming Joel Embiid and James Harden if they want to get the victory on Sunday night and change the momentum of this series.