Miami gave most of the main rotation players the game off for the regular season finale at the AA Arena. Toney Douglas, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, and James Jones would start the contest for the HEAT.
Thaddeus Young started out the game with a layup, followed by a Dwyane Wade miss and a Udonis Haslem foul on Young. Young sunk both foul shots, staking Philly to an early 4-0 lead. Haslem got Miami on the board first with a high arcing 18-footer from the left side. James Anderson sunk a three-pointer for the Sixers, and Wade hit Haslem on the baseline for an uncontested layup. Young scored another bucket, and Wade was fouled by Adonis Thomas. Wade made one-of-two from the line. On the next trip down, Young went to the well one time too many, missing a long shot from the left wing.
After a Battier turnover, Thomas sunk another three for the Sixers for a 12-5 lead, but earned his third foul with just under three minutes gone in the contest. Toney Douglas connected on Miami's first three-point attempt of the evening. After a few misses on each side, Young bowled over a shooting Wade, who was awarded a pair of foul shots. Wade made both of them. Young connected on a layup, and Wade equalled him with a short jump-hook. Wade made a quick Eurostep and a one-handed jumper to tie the game at 14 at the midway point of the quarter, but Anderson put the 76ers back on top with a 27-foot three-pointer.
After a TV time out, Wade caught a pass under the basket and made a spin-move/slam dunk, followed closely by a James Jones three-pointer. Miami's reserves then forced Philadelphia into a 24-second violation. Douglas made a pair of free throws the next time down the court, and Greg Oden, in his first action of the night, fouled Michael Carter-Williams, who made both foul shots. Shane Battier followed that with a three pointer to keep the HEAT lead at five, 24-19.
Battier made another three on his next shot, and MCW answered with a badly bricked three-point shot. After a Michael Beasley miss from distance, MCW made one of his own. Young scored a bucket in transition for Philly to cut the lead down to three. Casper Ware drilled a shot from outside to close the scoring in the period to end the first on a 10-point run and a 29-27 lead.
First Quarter Observations
- The 'Bron-less, Bosh-less, Bird-less and Rio-less HEAT can hang with the NBA's bottom feeders, at least for one quarter, but this lineup would be hard pressed to keep up with some of the more elite talent in this league.
- Ray Allen's 92% free throw percentage this season is the second highest of his career.
- Jarvis Varnado made an appearance for the Sixers, with a rebound, a steal and two points.
Beasley made his first basket of the night to open the second quarter. A possession later, Jones had a sick block and passed it out to Norris Cole, who drove the length of the court for a difficult looking layup. The Sixers made a basket, followed by the Beasley equalizer. Tony Wroten stole the ball and took it all the way to keep Philly on top of things, 38-35.
The Sixers started to pull away a bit as the HEAT started getting careless with the ball, turning it over four times in a three minute span, leading to six transition points for Philadelphia. Wade drove to the basket again for a layup which cut the Sixers lead from six down to four. He was fouled one possession later, making the first foul shot but missing the second.
Justin Hamilton fouled a driving Anderson to prevent an easy slam, but Anderson made both of his free throws. Allen made a nice dish to a patiently waiting Battier, who sunk his third bomb in three tries. Varnado had a pretty good looking block on Hamilton, who made both free throws. The half ended with Elliott Williams making one-of-two foul shots and the Sixers hitting the locker room with a 55-51 lead.
Second Quarter Observations
- Justin Hamilton is pretty good on the defensive end, but he has no offensive game that I could spot, other than being a "tall guy."
- Wade looks ready for showtime, cutting and dishing in midseason form.
Each team started out the second half with a missed shot. After the HEAT missed their second shot, Wade Eurostepped for another basket to get the deficit down to two. Douglas also secured a layup to even the score at 55. The Sixers got a three, and Douglas hit a mid-range jumper to keep Miami close. After the Sixers scored three more, UD hit a jumper. Unfortunately, Philadelphia made six straight points going into a commercial break.
The Sixers continued the run after the break, scoring two and then forcing Miami into a 24-second clock violation. The Sixers missed, and James Jones got Miami back in the scoring column with a three-pointer. Thaddeus Young made a ridiculous off-balance turn-around jumper to keep Miami nine points down.
Philadelphia extended the lead to 17 before Beasley seemed to injure his right foot (it turned out to be a sprained ankle). Greg Oden finally broke the run with a pair of free throws which cut the lead down to 80-65. The 76ers held the ball for the final shot, by Varnado. Miami trailed 84-66 going into the deciding frame.
Third Quarter Observations
- The Sixers were manhandling the HEAT in transition, outscoring Miami 20-2.
- Every Philadelphia player had a positive plus-minus rating, and Justin Hamilton led the HEAT with a minus-1.
- The only HEAT players shooting better than 50% were Battier and Beasley, both three-for-four from the field.
Miami didn't seem to be putting up much of a fight as the last quarter went on. Then, Cole and Jones hit three pointers, followed by a Sixers turnover and a Hamilton layup cut the Sixers lead down to 10. Philly missed a pair of shots, and Ray Allen made another deep shot to cut it to seven.
Henry Sims stopped the Miami run with a no-doubt slam dunk, and after a Hamilton miss, Thaddeus Young made an easy shot to run it out to 11 again. Both teams went cold for an extended period until Elliott Williams made a runner with three and a half minutes to go. Hamilton made my earlier statement moot by hitting a three-pointer for a 95-85 Philly lead.
The rest of the game passed without Miami mounting much of a charge, and the HEAT head to the playoffs on a two game losing streak.
Fourth Quarter Observations
- Greg Oden and Norris Cole both missed point blank field goal attempts in a 40-second span.
- The "wind" came out of Miami's sails during an extended scoring drought halfway through the period.
- Thaddeus Young led the game with 20 points, grabbing nine rebounds. Udonis Haslem had a game leading 10 boards to go along with his seven points.
By the end of the game, other scores started rolling in. Miami will meet the Charlotte Bobcats in round one of the playoffs beginning Sunday. For Bobcats news, go to Rufus on Fire. For more on the Sixers, go to Liberty Ballers