76ers vs Heat

Ben Simmons’ 76ers suffer through cold shooting night, Dwyane Wade lifts Miami Heat to Game

 

The Australian point guard did his best to lead a comeback, but the Philadelphia 76ers will head to Miami having giving up home court advantage.

And it was thanks to a vintage performance from Dwyane Wade.

The future Hall of Famer had a stunning first half, and followed it up with clutch plays on both ends, as the Heat defeated the 76ers 113-103, tying their first round series at 1-1.

“I hate this feeling,” Simmons said post-game.

”But, maybe it’s a good reminder for everybody for the next game, to really focus and lock in. Every game’s important.”

Wade finished with 28 points off the bench, shooting 11-of-17 from the field in a showing that looked more like the Dwyane Wade of old.

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Simmons posted a team-high 24 points, to go with eight rebounds and eight assists, but the 76ers suffered through a cold shooting night, losing a key home game.

The 76ers shot just 7-of-35 from beyond the arc, as their 17-game winning streak — one that stretched back into the regular season — came to an end.

The Heat got 20 points from Goran Dragic, as well as another impressive bench performance from Kelly Olynyk, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds, and six assists off the pine.

Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow, right, hits the court after drawing a foul on Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons.

It was the 76ers who picked up where they left off from Game 1, showing off their signature ball and player movement; a Simmons tip giving them a 15-11 lead, midway through the first quarter.

With Brett Brown’s team getting in the bonus early, they made the most of their trips to the line, with Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova leading the way as the 76ers took a 29-22 lead.

That’s when Wade and the Heat made some changes. Justise Winslow picked up on Simmons earlier up the court than usual, setting the tone for a physical brand of basketball the Heat had transitioned into.

“He’s gonna learn more about himself in this whole playoff experience than anything in the regular season teaches you,” Brown said post-game.

”For the very large majority of our NBA season, we went through defences that never left the paint, that picked up points back at the foul line while Ben was dribbling up the floor, and tonight the whole thing changed.

“I thought, for the most part, he handled it well. There’s always gonna be point guard moments… but, by and large, I thought he handled their pressure and their physicality well.”

Wade played a mixture of scorer and distributor, hitting an array of midrange jumpers to lift the Heat’s 20-2 run. A pair of Simmons free throws put a halt to the Heat’s run, but Wade continued to put his foot down, hitting a layup to end the second quarter, with the Heat entering the half with a 56-42 lead; the future Hall of Fame leading the way with 21 points, entering the main break.

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“That second quarter is definitely where they punched us in the mouth,” Simmons said.” We didn’t respond the right way. We brought it back, but it wasn’t enough.”

Wade shot 8-of-9 from the field in the first half and, in the process, the Heat legend passed Larry Bird for 10th place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list (3,899).

With the 76ers trailing, Brown opted to start Amir Johnson at the five-spot in the second half, and the big-man immediately went to work, throwing down a dunk in traffic. Still, the momentum was all with the Heat; Josh Richardson stepping up on both ends of the floor as the his team kept their lead at bay.

T.J. McConnell provided a burst to end the third period, hitting a pair of free throws to end the quarter, but the Heat still held a 86-75 lead.

Wayne Ellington opened the final quarter with a tough three-pointer, which was follow by a James Johnson dunk — giving the Heat a 91-75 lead; their largest of the evening — but Dario Saric led a 10-2 run for the 76ers, highlighted by a timely three-pointer from the top of the key.

A Simmons basket, followed by a tip-in from Ersan Ilyasova, saw the 76ers’ deficit get cut to just 98-96, but it was Wade who was the hero for the Heat, forcing a steal for a dunk, before finding James Johnson under the rim for a slam of his own on the next possession.

From then, it was the free throw game to the finish line, with the Heat now getting the opportunity to gain home court advantage as they head to Miami.

“We brought it back, but the hit some big shots — some defensive things we messed up on — but that happens; that’s the playoffs,” Simmons said. “We learn from it, and it’s on to the next game.”

Joel Embiid sat out Game 2 with a face injury. Ersan Ilyasova started in his place.

Game 3 is on Friday, tipping off at 9am (AEST).

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