By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor
The Philadelphia 76ers (1-1) couldn’t recover from a poor second quarter, suffering a 113-103 loss in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat (1-1). The Sixers trailed by as many as 16 in the third, cut the lead to as little as two in the fourth, but were unable to complete the comeback and will head to Miami with the series even at one a piece. The loss snaps Philadelphia’s 17-game winning streak as well.
The Sixers couldn’t overcome Miami’s physical, suffocating defense. They played Simmons very well and defended the Sixers’ outside shooters with ease, holding Philadelphia to just 20 percent shooting (7-for-35) from beyond the arc. Ben Simmons scored 24 points, 15 coming in the second half, to go along with eight boards and eight assists. Dario Saric finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
Dwyane Wade was the difference-maker for Miami in this one. The 15-year veteran came off the bench and scored 28 points while Goran Dragic had 20 after shooting just 4-for-14 in game one of the series. 21 of Wade’s 28 came in the first half, and 15 of those 21 came in a second quarter that saw Miami outscore Philadelphia 34-13. James Johnson had 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting.
Goran Dragic picked up two early fouls in the first, giving the Sixers an opportunity to take their first lead, 13-11, just over the midway point of the first quarter. An Ersan Ilyasova triple capped a 12-2 Sixers run to extend their lead to six, 20-14 with 3:20 remaining in the opening 12 minutes. Philadelphia led by as many as nine, and led after one 29-22. Once again, the Sixers veterans stole the show with Marco Belinelli scoring nine in the first while Ersan Ilyasova tallied eight points and five boards.
The Sixers found themselves in foul trouble early in the second, committing four fouls within the first three minutes, allowing the Heat to take the lead back, 30-29, behind a 10-run led by veteran Dwyane Wade. Wade's free throws and jump shot gave Miami the lead. He started the game hitting his first five shots.
Miami started the quarter on a 16-2 run, extending their advantage to 38-31. After falling down by nine, JJ Redick hit a much needed three to bring Philly back to within six with 4:19 left in the second quarter. Miami would continue their strong play, outscoring the Sixers 34-13 in the second to head into the locker rooms up by 14, 56-42.
A sloppy first half saw Philadelphia shooting 33.3 percent from the floor and 2-for-18 from three-point range. Miami's defense was suffocating in the second quarter, bearing down on Simmons and covering the perimeter extremely well. Belinelli and Simmons each had nine points to pace the Sixers. The Heat shot 50 percent in the first half and were led by Dwayne Wade. Wade scored 21 points off the bench, 15 in the second quarter alone, hitting eight of his first nine shots.
Philadelphia used a 9-2 run to cut Miami's lead to seven with 9:14 left in the third, capped off by a Saric triple. A Tyler Johnson three with 6:43 left in the third put the Heat back up by 12 though, 69-57. Every time the Sixers made a little headway, Miami had an answer, maintaining a 77-65 lead with just under four minutes to play in the third. The Sixers found themselves down by as many as 16, but they ended the 3rd scoring five straight points to shave the lead down to 11, 86-75, going into the final 12 minutes.
After scoring five to end the quarter, the Sixers gave up five straight to start the fourth as Miami went back up by 17. They wouldn’t go away though. A Dario Saric three followed by an Ilyasova bucket made it an 11-point game once again with 10 minutes left. Philadelphia put together a 9-2 spurt to get back to within eight, 93-85, with 8:59 to go.
A Ben Simmons free throw made it a six-point game with just over six to play. Simmons then found Dario Saric cutting to the basket across the court following a rebound, and The Homie hit a bucket to make it a four-point game. An Ilyasova tip-in cut the lead to two, but the Heat answered with six straight to go back up by eight, 104-96, with 2:25 left in the game. They’d hold on to win this one by 10, 113-103.
The Sixers and Heat resume their series in Miami on Thursday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and Philadelphia could see Joel Embiid return to the lineup.