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ReHeat: Big 3 power Heat victory over scrappy Sixers 111-99

  • A solid victory over a gritty Sixers team that won't be pushovers against whoever they face in the first round of the playoffs. Loaded with young talent, Philadelphia played so crisp Friday night it convinced me that Doug Collins truly deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year along with Chicago's Tom Thibodeau and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich. Their refusal to part with their players for the past few years while they were mired in mediocrity was at the time puzzling but now is paying off in the right system. This is in direct contrast to the Heat, Bulls and Celtics, the current Eastern powerhouses, who won't think twice of jettison promising players and draft picks if it means getting established veterans in return.
  • Of course, the Heat doesn't have that kind of depth but what they do have is three All-Stars peaking at just the right time in the season and that was the difference in crunch time. Wade played one of his best games of the season as he put in a vintage performance recalling his 2006 peak with a near triple-double of 39 points, 8 assists, 5 blocks and 11 rebounds. He was unstoppable getting to the rim in the fourth quarter once LeBron entered the game after getting a short rest to start the quarter and let D-Wade continue to handle the ball. With Bosh capably anchoring the center spot, it enabled the Heat to go small and fuel the game-changing run to put away the pesky Sixers. Using Wade as the primary ballhandler allowed the Heat to push the pace and not allow the Sixers to set their defense as they were able to do in the first half when they kept shutting down Wade and LeBron if they attempted to penetrate.
  • The Heat's 13 turnovers in the first half where a season high for any half as they continued a tendency that has come and gone through the course of the season to make lazy and/or telegraphed passes. Even worse, these turnovers meant automatic easy points in transition for the athletic Sixers players.
  • LeBron had 11 straight points in the third quarter to help the Heat keep up with the Sixers who raced out to a fresh new lead early in the second half after giving up a 16 point advantage when the score was 42-26 midway through the second half and allowing the home team to go on 21-2 run. A big reason they came back in that 25-8 run to take the lead was a huge 25-12 rebounding edge. The Heat kept it up in the second half and ended with a sizable 49-31 edge for the game. Their fourth quarter comeback netted twice as many points as their rivals, who went cold from distance while looking around for someone among the team to take charge and lead them as their go-to scorer. A tip of the hat to Bosh and LeBron for stepping it up a notch on the defensive side with both Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala struggling from the floor and making them non-factors.
  • Maybe the rest of the Heat team not part of the Big 3 didn't score much (okay, they only collectively scored 20 points, or just 18% of the Heat's total of 111) but they did provide timely help for the Big 3 at crucial moments of the game. Mike Bibby had some nice synergy with the Big 3, particularly in the first half and in transition. Eddie House, James Jones and Mike Miller only combined for 4 three-pointers but they hit them when the team needed them the most and they acquitted themselves on defense as well. In contrast, the Sixers top scorers of the game came off the bench with Lou Williams going for 24 points and 5 assists and Thaddeus Young getting 15 points and 8 rebounds.
  • With the victory the Heat now are only half a game behind the fading Celtics for the second seed in the East with yet another loss, this time to the Charlotte Bobcats.
  • Mario Chalmers will now return a week later than the initial two week projection and Udonis Haslem continues his comeback to the team. We've already reached the late March timeframe that Haslem himself was projecting last month with only ten games left in the regular season.