Goran Dragic, Rodney McGruder, Josh Richardson, Okaro White were out, leaving Dion Waiters, DeAndre Liggins, Wayne Ellington, Kelly Olynyk, and Hassan Whiteside as the starters facing J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid.
The 76ers quickly proved they are not the same sad lottery team from last season as they jumped out to a 19-10 lead, after the Heat started out up 5-2. The action was highlighted by Embiid taunting the entire Heat team and Whiteside in particular, who picked up his third personal foul just 2 minutes and 21 seconds into the game.
Even in preseason the 76ers, believe they are hot stuff, lead by Embiid’s Draymond Green-type of trash talk. Embiid does what Green would do during a game: point to the Heat bench, in front of thousands of people, and say “Get him out of here, because he can’t guard me.”
Even with Whiteside, Olynyk and Waiters starting, the Heat's play was ragged against the aggressive 76ers team. The only thing that kept Miami in the game was their free throw accuracy. They made their first 7 out of 7 tries and ended up converting the first 10 of 11 from the charity stripe. The quarter ended with the Heat behind 34-29.
The second quarter was more of the same for the Heat, with a valiant effort stymied by poor 3-point shooting and porous defense. The two bright spots were provided by Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow. Tyler scored 8 points in 15 minutes with 3 assists. Winslow had 3 nifty assists and 6 rebounds, and provided some energy off the bench. The first half ended with Miami trailing by 69-54, but could outlast the Mc76ers over the long season.
Some takeaways from the first half could temper Heat’s high expectations for the upcoming season. Waiters wasn't able to carry the team in Dragic's absence, as shown by his -16 in the +/- column. One comment on the Embiid video said this about the not-so-subtle mind games displayed on the court to entertain the crowd,
I can so picture Waiters there at the end telling Embid "Chill out if you wanna be safe in my Philly streets"
Olynyk seemed invisible during the game and left without impacting it in a meaningful way. The box score no points to his name in eight minutes on the floor.
Whiteside and Waiters need to step up their leadership roles on the court during the season, by getting the best from less talented teammates. Dragic is an example of a player imposing his will on a team, when he lead his underdog Slovenian team to an unexpected 9-0 record and championship. The forcefulness Miami displayed against the Washington Wizards was not there in Kansas City. Different oppenents, different intensity levels, even in preseason games.
The third quarter began with Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Jordan Mickey, Matt Williams Jr, and Derrick Walton Jr. on the floor. Winslow showed off some offense promise making lay-ups and jumpers for 10 points in a quarter, though he didn't make an assist. Adebayo gave the 76ers a taste of their own youthful medicine scoring 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting for the quarter, along with his customary 3 of 3 free throws. This time around Williams Jr. didn't have his stroke, missing all 3 of his 3-point tries, which added to Miami's horrendous 4 makes out of 24 tries from downtown. The quarter mercifully ended with Heat down by 22 points, 97-75.
The fourth quarter was played with the likes of Adebayo, Liggins, Mickey, Walton Jr, Erik McCree competing against Nick Stauskas, James Blackmon Jr, Furkan Korkmaz, Jacob Pullen, Emeka Okafor, James McAdoo. Jordan Mickey quietly recorded Miami’s lone double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. At 23 years old, he might become a valuable contributor during the regular season. Miami finished losing the game by 24 points, 119-95, with a video recap below.
The low point of the stats is the 4 of 30 shooting, 13.3%, from downtown. That's more like last season’s 11-30 Heat, rather than the 30-11 ones who almost made the playoffs. At least Bam provided fans something to look forward to during the regular season.
Little excitement was gotten out of this preseason game for the fans, but does help the coaches and management make roster decisions before Saturday's 5 pm waiver deadline. As a note, the Heat's 2-way players can be on the team until Oct. 22, without counting against their 45-day limit in the NBA. After the 76ers game, the coaches may find making tough personnel decisions easier.
The Heat begins the regular season on the road against the Orlando Magic at 7:00 pm, broadcast on FoxSports Sun and 790TheTicket.