With 23.8 seconds left, the Miami Heat were down to the Philadelphia 76ers 101-100. With the Heat as the eighth seed and the Sixers as the seventh seed, this game was crucial for Miami — especially after blowing a 24-point lead to Philadelphia two weeks ago.
Dwyane Wade had served up heroics, scoring 13 of the Heat’s final 15 points up to that point. He needed one more heroic act, especially after committing a perplexing intentional foul on Ben Simmons with the score tied at 100 (Simmons, a 57 percent foul shooter, made one of his two free throws). And he did.
Wade’s clutch jumper put the Heat up 102-101 with 5.9 seconds left, and J.J. Redick missed a wide-open 3 at the buzzer. The win was monumental for Miami, gaining a game on the Sixers and securing a much-needed win after having lost eight of their last 10 games.
This game also gave Heat fans a dose of nostalgia from Wade’s prime years — he even yelled “this is my house!” after hitting the jumper, as he famously did after hitting a game-winning 3 against the Chicago Bulls during the 2008-09 season. The three-time NBA champion scored 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field and collected three steals.
Dwyane puts an end to the rd quarter! pic.twitter.com/B75DNbx01J— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 28, 2018
Wade needed to turn the clock back for that performance — the Heat fell behind by 10 points with 9:21 left to go. At various points in this game, the Heat looked disjointed. Miami went through a nearly eight-minute stretch in the first half without a field goal. Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson suffered injuries in this game and did not return, forcing Erik Spoelstra to give fourth-quarter minutes to Rodney McGruder, who hasn’t played an NBA game since April 2017.
But the Heat did enough right at the end to win. And that’s more than they did two weeks ago in Philadelphia.
Another big positive from the Heat was Hassan Whiteside, who played with a high intensity Tuesday night. Whiteside dove for loose balls against Joel Embiid, his rival, and finished with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He gave up some jump shots against Embiid — especially early in the game — but Whiteside’s performance should serve as a model for the him going forward.
Smart fake here from Whiteside getting Embiid to bite. pic.twitter.com/VYTxcQ0bFd— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) February 28, 2018
In a bit of a surprise, Spoelstra only played Bam Adebayo for six minutes in Tuesday’s game. Kelly Olynyk played 24 minutes in his first game back from an injury. Olynyk scored nine points off the bench, but he also committed two traveling fouls and struggled to defend Embiid. Adebayo would have seemed like a good defensive match-up against Embiid.
Goran Dragic scored 21 points for the Heat, including three 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists. Before he got hurt, Tyler Johnson contributed 16 points in 22 minutes, including back-to-back 3s to open the third quarter. Johnson returned to the Heat bench after a brief trip to the locker-room — unlike Ellington — but did not check back into the game.
The Heat will host the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night at 7:30.