It was a sloppy game. It was a frustrating game. But it was another game where the Sixers found a way to get it done, and came out with a much needed win.
There were stretches in the game, particularly the second and third quarters where it felt like the Sixers hadn't scored in hours. They started out much like they ended the last two games, with Thad carrying the team offensively and Sammy anchoring the defense. The Sixers looked like they were going to win with ease, and the Heat were on the verge of laying down after playing in a triple overtime game just 20 hours earlier. Then, the second unit came in. A lineup of Ivey, Williams, Iguodala, Evans and Speights was absolutely putrid to watch, and quickly let the Heat back into the game. That's been a running theme for the season -- starters get off to a good start, usually led by Thad, then the second unit comes in, blows the lead, and the rest of the game is a dog-fight.
I have to admit, when Miami took a 64-56 lead with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter, I thought it was over. I had no idea how the Sixers were going to be able to a) stop D-Wade or b) find a way to score points.
Then I was shocked to see "Fat Luda" waddling into the game with 11:16 remaining. This was only the 14th time Donny-Ice had seen the floor all season. Maybe DiLeo should re-consider his playing time? The moment Marshall entered the game, the Sixers offense changed. They finally had a "zone-buster" -- someone to stretch the defense and hit a couple of open threes, and that's exactly what he did.
Marshall dropped 10 points in the fourth quarter as the Sixers outscored the Heat 24-9. Donyell was clearly the star of the quarter, but there was another star who we cannot overlook -- Samuel Dalembert. Since finding himself though Moses Malone, Dalembert has been an absolute force in all aspects of his game. He's finishing around the rim, he's grabbing defensive boards, and most importantly he's anchoring the defense. Donyell can be credited with the offensive outburst, but holding the Heat to nine points in the fourth falls squarely on Dalembert's shoulders. If he continues to follow Mo Malone's advice to "play mean", there's no reason he can't perform like this every game.
Some might say the Heat simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, and the Sixers were handed the victory. And the Heat could've very well been exhausted, but make no bones about it, the Sixers won this game; the Heat didn't lose it. The Sixers were the better team today, plain and simple. DiLeo made the proper adjustments, specifically the Donyell sub, and the team came out with the W.
Here are a couple random thoughts to close us out.
- Lou-Will is absolute garbage. He's done nothing but hurt the team when he's in the game. Surprisingly he played the entire fourth quarter, and managed to sort of "stay out of the way", and even contributed a tough layup with 6:16 to go.
- Willie Green sucks. Sorry, I had to say it.
- Andre Iguodala needs to shoot free throws better. He made 7-12 today, and nothing pisses me off more than missed free throws, especially from Iguodala.
- Donyell needs more playing time, just so I can say "Donny-Ice" and "Fat Luda" more often.
- Thad's still looking good.