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Sixers steal one in Miami, take a 3-1 series lead

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The Sixers were able to bring the defense in the 4th quarter and sweep the Heat on their home court.

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers won 106-102 over the Miami Heat in a game that was as physical as everyone expected. Four technical fouls were handed out, and James “Bloodsport” Johnson tried to intimidate Ben Simmons in a second-quarter skirmish in which the surefire Rookie of the Year only smirked back.

The first three-quarters of the game felt like the old Sixers, the Sixers before their record-breaking winning streak and outstanding 2018 home court performance. It felt like the Sixers of…December. Through the first three quarters, the Sixers had 24 turnovers, mostly unforced, indicative of a lack of focus.

As they’ve shown, the Sixers are a second-half team and they sure came out in the second half today. They were trailing by four going into the fourth quarter but were able to hold the Heat to only 19 points and secure the ball, committing only three turnovers in the last period.

Ben Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson to record a triple-double in a playoff game and finished with 17/13/10. With less than a minute left in the game, Simmons slammed a driving dunk in traffic to put the Sixers up by three, a lead they almost held for the rest of the game.

Joel Embiid struggled a bit tonight, possibly due to fatigue after not playing for 2 1/2 weeks. He finished the night with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks. The mask he wears to protect his repaired orbital bone continues to be a hindrance to him. Twice during the game, he didn’t have it down and protecting his face during play: once when he “forgot it” and the other after rebounding his own missed free throw.

J.J. Redick was huge in this game, scoring the last four points to put the game away. His game-sealing rebound came after a Dwyane Wade missed free throw, which forced the Heat to intentionally foul Redick, a career 89% free throw shooter. He finished with a team-high 24 points.

Although his 10 points off the bench don’t sound too impressive, Ersan Ilyasova’s contributions to the game can not be overlooked. He hit a 3-point shot with less than two seconds left in the third quarter to bring the Sixers within four. He drew charges (no surprise there). He had eight rebounds and he finished +16 for the game.

For the Heat, Hassan Whiteside had a comeback game, finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds. It should be noted that those 13 points are more points than he scored in the previous three games combined. Dwyane Wade was the leading scorer of the game, contributing a quiet 25 points.

The Sixers can close out the series on Tuesday in Joel Embiid’s first home playoff game of his career. When asked by Molly Sullivan what it’s going to be like, he responded: “it’s gonna be lit.”

Other Notes

Dario Saric wasn’t quite as “Playoff D” as he was in Game 3 but still finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds.

Markelle Fultz was a DNP-Coach’s Decision in tonight’s matchup, with T.J. McConnell getting the backup point guard minutes. In McConnell’s nine minutes on the floor, he had two points and four rebounds.

Robert Covington finished with 10 points, on 2 for 3 shooting from beyond the arc. His defense continues to be elite.

The Heat only shot 36.8% from three in Game 4.