The Sixers whooped the Miami Heat 128-108 in Game 3. The 1st half was competitive and even a little nerve-wracking. But the Sixers made some fine adjustments and blew the doors of the Heat in the 4th quarter. Some random thoughts running through my mind after Game 3:
- Dario Saric: Dario’s been huge in this series, and especially last night. He started off a bit slow, but finally found his grove. He finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, and shot 4-7 from 3PT. Dario had a down game shooting from distance in Game 2 (3-10), but overall in the series, his 3PT% is up to 47.8%. Saric just continues to delightfully surprise: in no way, shape or form did I expect the leap Saric made from year 1 to year 2. Now, he’s continued his strong play into the postseason and is a major factor in the Sixers being up 2-1.
- Marco Belinelli: Speaking of surprises, I just can’t believe some of the things Marco Belinelli pulls off. I’m watching him, expecting some sort of clusterfuck to occur, yet it often ends in 3 points. I was critical of Marco, even though I liked the addition. At the time of the signing, I expected Marco to get some late season tick and then be borderline phased out of the rotation come playoffs. Marco Belinelli is AVERAGING 20.7 points in this series. That’s just incredible, almost unbelievable. The guy can hit any perimeter jump shot, no matter the scenario: fading out of bounds, nearly fumbling the ball away as he rises up, coming off screens, mid-way through wrestling a grizzly bear. It doesn’t matter. In game 3, Marco contributed 21 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. The biggest thing is this: when Marco’s on, the Sixers offense looks unstoppable even when the rotation kicks in. Going from Redick to Marco is such a luxury.
- The officiating: Look, if the game is physical, many fouls will be called. The refs can’t just let everything go. But most of this series would be unwatchable for me if not for the Sixers being a part of it. A whistle blows every. other. possession. There’s just been no rhythm from audience’s perspective. It’s been extremely frustrating and it doesn’t make for a fun watch. On top of that, there’s been some really questionable calls, and Miami got away with murder in Game 3. Everyone’s asked it by now, but how in the fuck does Justin Anderson get a technical for Dwyane Wade attempting to rip Anderson’s shoulder out of its socket? And then there was the foul called on TJ McConnell to end the half, in which Dwyane Wade was the “victim.” Except that even Wade, when approached by McConnell after the buzzer sounded, seemed to agree there was no foul on the play.
- Joel Embiid: What can you say? The man is a difference maker of the highest kind. Imagine having an “off” night offensively and still being the key to the game. Embiid’s defense was nothing short of spectacular. He changed the game. He changes the series. Moving on.
- Justin Anderson: Many clamored for him, and they got their wish. Anderson was physical, played some mind games and even dropped 6 points on two 3PTs. His presence was energetic and there’s not a reason I can think off, after watching his performance, that he shouldn’t get more run this series. He refused to let Wade get easy buckets and relished the opportunity to match up with him. I think I saw him get into a 3 point stance at one point while picking Wade up at half court.
- TJ McConnell/Markelle Fultz: I wrote the other day about how Markelle Fultz’ Game 2 performance shouldn’t relegate him to a cheerleader role. However, his Game 2 combined with Game 3, and TJ’s performance in Game 3, has me second guessing myself. I’m not sure if the lights are too bright or the physicality is too new to him, but Fultz is struggling. For now, TJ will likely get the backup point guard minutes moving forward. TJ’s presence was steady and mistake free for the most part. Still don’t want him playing with Simmons.
- The Heat: The Sixers took away their will to live. The Heat mustered only 14 points in the 4th quarter and just flat out looked like they didn’t want to play anymore. The Sixers have the upperhand now, and it’s time to put their foots on the throat of the Heat and end this series. The Heat can’t run with the Sixers over 7 games, especially with Embiid returning.
- Brett Brown: If you still won’t give the man credit, I really don’t know what you’ve been watching. We’ve now seen two incredible half time turnarounds, against an elite coach in Erik Spoelstra, nevertheless. I have all the confidence in the world in Brett Brown; the young Sixers are in very good hands. Not enough is being said about the job Brett is doing.