After three consecutive losses to teams with a sub-500 record, the Miami Heat found themselves at a lost for answers and in need of an adrenaline shot.
A revenge game against the Philadelphia 76ers will have to do. A combination of an increased effort that was apparent and obvious from the start and the Sixers playing all-around horrifically allowed the Heat to make a legitimate response to questions regarding their effort.
Consider the Heat’s 101-86 victory as a dose of revenge, too. The Heat fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in their home-opener in a game where rookie Michael Carter-Williams debuted with a near quadruple-double.
This was a tale of two different games, and also a significant indicator of the Heat’s success when they display an effort. Compared to the previous meeting where they allowed 114 points, there was certainly a greater attention to detail on the defensive end, allowing the Sixers to shoot 37 percent from the field.
The Heat had ranked as the league’s worst defense when it came to field-goal percentage allowed in 2014.
Philadelphia also made only two of its 20 three-point attempts and less than 60 percent of its 37 free throw attempts. Carter-Williams, meanwhile, struggled with seven points on 1-of-7 shooting, five turnovers, and only two assists.
Miami held their opponent to sub-40 percent shooting throughout the night, while also racking up enough points to create a deficit that Philadelphia never challenged. The Heat scored 34 points in the first quarter and were up by 17 points by the half after scoring 58 points in the first 24 minutes.
The Heat had 30 assists on their 38 field-goal attempts. The offense flowed well throughout, before LeBron James began to play isolation-ball that resulted in a few highlights being made as he took advantage of an assignment whose name escapes me.
I like to consider myself a well-versed viewer of the NBA. The Sixers, however, stumped me on a few occasions. Even in a fourth quarter where the starters were held out for the most part, I still couldn’t connect any names to their numbers.
After doing some research, I found out it was Brandon Davies who was getting abused by James. Here are a few other names the Sixers trotted out tonight: Dewayne Dedmon, Elliot Williams, and Hollis Thompson.
Needless to say, this was the type of opponent the Heat needed to end a losing streak.
The tip-off. The Heat came into this game looking to make a statement after three consecutive games of nonexistent, dazed efforts on the defensive end. Even though it was just a January game against a bad Philadelphia team, you could tell from the start that Miami came into this game with a chip on its shoulder.
They also weren’t expecting to have Michael Carter-Williams have a repeat historical performance. The Heat largely kept him under wraps throughout, with Mario Chalmers making a strong return with great defense, dribble-penetration that led to five assists, and a pair of three-pointers.
The Heat also didn’t need a boost from Greg Oden, who didn’t play after a magnificent debut against Washington.
The entire first quarter. The first 12 minutes of games have been largely uneventful for the Heat as of late, including their recent loss to Washington where they surrendered 43 points in the first quarter alone.
Against Philadelphia, Miami moved the ball well, made a conscious effort to attack the rim, hit open three-pointers, and closed out on Sixers’ shooters to begin a night of shooting futility.Two of their first three makes were three-pointers that came off assists, while Chris Bosh began a night of aggressive play through his mid-range jumper and pick-and-rolls with Chalmers.
Stat of the game:
12 blocks. Led by Chris Bosh’s five, the Heat’s effort was showcased with its season-high for effort for blocks in a game. Miami made Philadelphia work for every one of its shots, especially when they were able to get into the teeth of the Heat defense.
Although Philadelphia scored 46 points in the paint, it wasn’t easy. Miami forced many of their opponent’s 23 turnovers with quick hands and disruption in the passing lane
Dwyane Wade also had himself a vintage defensive effort, finishing with three blocks, while Shane Battier sent back two shots of his own.
LeBron James: 21 points (7-13), 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block; A-
LeBron was on heavy triple-double watch throughout the night, yet still couldn’t lock up his first of the year, even though he only needed two rebounds by the seven minute mark of the fourth. He was quiet early on, doing his work as a passer, but came alive in a fourth quarter where he scored ten points.
Dwyane Wade: 8 points (3-6), 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal; C
The Heat weren’t exactly in need of a big effort from Dwyane Wade. And can’t he get the benefit of the doubt? It was his birthday after all. He dealt with early foul trouble that forced him to the bench halfway through the first and he was never able to establish any sort of on offense.
Chris Bosh: 23 points (11-18), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks, 2 steals; A
Consider this as one of Bosh’s best all-around efforts of the season. He was aggressive early on and was hitting on his mid-range from the get-go. He led the charge of interior defense, while also holding Spencer Hawes to 10 points on 14 shots. His best play of the game, however, may have been his assist from the top of the perimeter on a fourth quarter alley-oop to LeBron.