The Sixers stave off elimination and the Heat choke away another game. Does either mean anything in the long run?
Posted by Matt Moore
First, it was certain the Sixers were going to save themselves some pride. Then, it was certain the Sixers were going to blow it again. And in the end, the world gets to celebrate another blown Heat lead, a blocked LeBron shot, and the Sixers live to die another day.
The Heat ran off a 22-2 run in the second quarter and lost. The Sixers shot 41 percent and won. And the leading scorer for Philadelphia was Evan Turner, who didn't even play in the first two games of this series. Meanwhile, the Heat's offense wilted and died in the face of a much improved Philadelphia defense. Elton Brand played physical for the first time in this series, and the result was a 5-12 performance from Chris Bosh, who had averaged just under 22 points through the first three games.
There's two ways to look at this game.
On the one hand: This series is still over, right? The Heat have a significant lead down the stretch, and it takes a Lou Williams 3-pointer (granted, he's shooting 60 percent from the arc in this series, but still) to stave off elimination at home. The Heat ran off a 22-2 run and had they started with any level of consistency or effort, this would have been a blowout. Sweeping teams in the NBA is remarkably difficult (if you're not the Celtics, apparently), and the Heat giving up a game isn't the end of the world. They've been in control for 13 of the 16 quarters in this series, the chances of the Sixers climbing back in are extremely low. The talent gap is just too great.
On the other hand: Isn't this how it starts? The Heat fail to close out a bad team in an elimination game. Spirits get down, emotions drop. Then the Sixers use the momentum to steal one in Miami, where the Heat don't have a great homecourt advantage with an apathetic crowd. All of a sudden, it's a 3-2 game going back to Philadelphia, and the Heat are questioning themselves. This sounds like science fiction. But it's what we've come to expect. Until the Heat prove they can commit to closing out a team with force, there will be doubt in people's minds about their ability. They gave this one up. So the model is there for Philadelphia, sans that second quarter disaster. The Sixers aren't dead, because the Heat haven't ended them yet. Until they do, that excitement about the possibility of a Sixers comeback will linger.
Miami thought they had taken all the pressure off of themselves. They thought they would coast into the second round. But, as much of an advantage as they've had, they still couldn't get it done. The Sixers live to die another die.
NBA Playoffs Sixers-Heat: Die another day
Posted on: April 24, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 6:09 pm