The Miami Heat owned the Philadelphia Sixers tonight for the first 24 minutes. Absolutely owned them. They came out looking like a team that had just been embarrassed by the Pacers. They looked hungry, they looked energized, they looked like defending champs. After the half, they acted their age.
The Sixers turned a 49–34 halftime deficit into a 93–85 win. I’ll do the math for you, the Sixers (9–24 on the road coming into this game) outscored the Heat 59–36 in the second half. Everyone, including the logical left-side of my brain, expected this game to turn into another Houston/Detroit fiasco, with the Sixers going quietly into the night, but not this time. This time, the Sixers showed the world why I’ve gotten so excited about them over these past couple months.
I’m not going to ramble on about how the Sixers are a team on the rise (they are) and the Heat are over-rated and old (they are), but what I will do is give a warning to all you Heat fans out there. This team thinks it’s better than it is. They were rejuvenated when Dwyane Wade went down, but that spring is gone from their step. They are completely coasting at this point, and they’re in for a rude awakening if they get matched up against a young team that loves to run, like Toronto, in the first round.
Jason Williams seemed to be the only one in white who wanted to play the second half of the game, and unfortunately for the Heat, that translated into J-Wil hucking up bad three after bad three.
Enough about the Heat. The story of this game was Andre Iguodala. After missing the first game of his career, Iguodala was back out there tonight, and though obviously still feeling the effects of a back strain, he was a man. After a slow start, Iguodala was called for a technical when he was fouled on a break away, but the refs swallowed their whistles. This is the first technical I’ve ever seen called on Andre, and it woke him up. He hit jumpers, he drove the lane, he distributed, he crashed the boards and most importantly he got to the line (8–11 on FTs).
Iguodala, Joe Smith and Kyle Korver buried the Heat in the second half. Joe Smith has been a pleasant surprise since coming over as basically a throw-in in the Iverson deal. (His expiring contract was the asset.) Smith finished with a double-double, 12 points and 13 rebounds. Korver caught fire in the fourth, finishing with 17 and 5 boards. Iguodala is your player of the game, 19 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 46 minutes of action.
The Sixers have three well-deserved days off before traveling to Washington to face the
Bullets Wizards on Wednesday. This brief respite couldn’t have come at a better time for Iguodala’s back.
Playoffs? The Nets were the only other team in the race for the 7/8 seeds in the Eastern Conference tonight, they beat Charlotte 113–107 in overtime. The Sixers moved to within 4 games of a playoff berth, NJ and Orlando are now tied for the 7/8 seeds.