You’d figure a wide open JJ Redick three-pointer at the buzzer is destined to go in, but not on the night of February 27th, that night belonged to Dwyane Wade.
Wade went off for 27 points on 62/50/100 shooting splits, 15 of those points came in the 4th quarter, when he was virtually unstoppable. Which is odd, because he was quoted saying he was contemplating about retirement after this season. So hats off the D Wade, who turned back the clock and had himself a night.
While Wade went off for the Heat, the Sixers continue to shoot themselves in the foot as they fail to take care of the ball night in and night out. 23 turnovers resulted in 18 points for the Heat, in a game that was decided by one point. No starter seemed to have a firm grip on the ball, as Embiid and Redick both had 5 turnovers, Simmons and Saric both had 4, and Robert Covington had 2 of his own.
Part of the struggle throughout this game was that Joel Embiid got in to foul trouble very early, picking up his fifth foul just a minute in to the 4th quarter as he fouled Kelly Olynyk attempting a three. Joel finished with 23/8/4 along with those aforementioned 5 fouls and 5 turnovers. He shot 12-22 from the field overall but only attempted 3 foul shots throughout the game (he made 2 of them). But overall, Joel played a poor game, in a very pivotal game in the season.
Ben Simmons, who had been destroying the Heat this year, averaging 19/9/8 in the previous two matchups, had a “subpar” game as he only mustered 11/6/6 and a -11. The Heat were tied with the Sixers with 27 seconds to play and Dwyane Wade opted to foul Simmons, sending him to the line in a clutch situation; and unlike the Bulls game on February 22nd, the 57% free throw shooter only hit one of two from the line, giving Wade and the Heat the opportunity for the lead, and the rest is history. One thing that should be certain, is that Ben will come back pissed off that he missed, and work relentlessly on his free throw shot, which is something that we have already seen him do: at the point of the initial Hack-A-Simmons event against the Wizards on November 29th where he shot 15-29 from the line, his overall free throw percentage was 55%. Since the Celtics London game on January 18th, he has shot 60% from the line. It’s not the largest improvement, but it’s an improvement, and he’s a rookie, he’ll learn from this and come back with a vengeance.
Dario Saric started off just 2-7 from the floor in the first half, but kicked it in gear for a monster second half which included him shooting 3-4 from beyond the arc, and 2-2 from inside. The Homie was doing all he could for the Sixers as he also grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 2 assists but his late game efforts were spoiled by Wade.
Did Amir Johnson play too much tonight? Probably. In his 13 minutes he registered 0 points, 5 rebounds, and a -11. Did Brett Brown continue to play him in the 2nd half? NO. He allocated more minutes to Richaun Holmes, who finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his 17 minutes. Richaun has had a couple of “you better f***ing play me” more games over the last stretch of games. He has averaged just under 20 minutes in these last 4 games, in which he has put up a +27 total and he is averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds. With the stunning play of Richaun, and the impending addition of Ersan Ilyasova, I’m sure Amir’s minutes will fade in to nothing.
A lot has been said on if Ben Simmons should’ve gone up with the ball on that final possession, or if he made the correct basketball play and passed it out, which resulted in a wide open JJ Redick three-point attempt. Personally, I still think Simmons made the right read, because I will always prefer an open 3 from a “reliable” 3-point shooter any day of the week in comparison to a contested layup over two defenders. It would have been nice if there was some more time on the clock so there was an opportunity for a put back, but that simply wasn’t the situation, so Redick’s shot needed to go in, and it didn’t.
Lastly, the Fire Brett Brown crowd will surely arise from these back to back losses, so I’ll throw in my two cents and say... this is a team with a rookie point guard, a second year injury prone center, a second year starting power forward, limited bench options, another rookie who won’t see the court this year, and fans who have adapted a “must win now” mentality ever since the Eagles won the Super Bowl. This is a team is still five games over .500 and still hold the 7th spot in the Eastern conference, and the 6 teams in front of them all made the playoffs last year. These losses aren’t the end of the world, the best thing they can do is use them as stepping stones for the future. It’s not like our team is falling apart after this year and this has to be the year we win. Calm down, take a deep breath, this is not all on Brett Brown.
Next game of the Sixers is Thursday against the Cavs at 8 on TNT.