With recent lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor out, the Miami Heat came into the game as -9.5 favorites against the Philadelphia 76ers. OddsShark predicted a victory by a final score of 114-98. A 16-2 opening run and season-high 40-point first quarter signaled an easy victory.
However the 19-point second quarter deflated hopes for things going according to plan. As usual turnovers and sloppy ball-handling lead to giving the league-worst 76ers a chance to get back into the game.
At end of the half, Heat had 10 turnovers, while the 76ers only had four, and a meager 10-point cushion, which actually was the final difference in the game as 76ers played the Heat to a draw in the second half.
In the third quarter the 76ers managed to grab a 72-69 lead due to the Heat's coughing up the ball several times for easy baskets by the 76ers. Dwyane Wade came back into the game and single-highhandedly willed the team to a lead. Then the igniter checked in and gave the team its needed spark.
Gerald Green may be a streaky shooter, but his energy is always there. With two 3-point buckets, he announced his return to a rotation spot and may have established a role as the season winds down.
More surprisingly, Hassan Whiteside has evolved into a legitimate All-Star candidate for next season with his two assists, along with his steady dosage of double-doubles (19 points, 19 rebounds) and blocked shots. As an understudy to Amar'e Stoudemire, the carefully crafted plan of Whiteside learning from Amar'e's own bag-of-tricks is providing the Heat with huge dividends.
Erik Spoelstra finished the game with the high-energy unit of Whiteside, Green, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Udonis Haslem (?). In other words, the veteran starters got some needed rest at the end in this back-to-back game to prepare for the rough patch ahead. After Sunday's game with 76ers, the Heat face the Bucks, Bulls, Raptors, Nuggets, Hornets and Cavaliers.
The final score of 112-102 was over the spread but under the predicted margin of victory. The Heat have scored over 100 points 8 out of their last 10 games, with five of those being over 110 points. Who would have figured the Heat as a scoring juggernaut?
Joe Johnson must be happy with his 4-0 start in a Heat uniform and the Heat very pleasantly surprised the big boost he gives when the team when they need it the most.