There's no shame in losing to the Miami Heat in Miami, especially not when you're short your starting center, playing against a rested team when you're on the second night of a back-to-back. There's no shame in the loss, at all, but sometimes it's not if you lose, but how you lose that defines you as a team. What we saw in the second half last night was not characteristic of this Sixers team. (game capsule)
Here's your rotation chart. I highlighted the run in the first quarter which erased an early deficit and the run to begin the fourth when the team basically threw in the towel:
This game really didn't sit well with me mostly because we saw something from the Sixers, and Doug Collins, that we haven't seen all year. Concession. Collins half-emptied his bench when the game was still somewhat within reach. The team stopped playing any semblance of organized basketball when the game was still somewhat within reach and their defensive intensity completely disappeared while the game was still somewhat within reach. This was a first for the team, and hopefully a last because the only way they're a top seed in the Eastern Conference is if they maintain their intensity without fail.
Miami was essentially a buzz saw last night. The Sixers played a smart, intense defense the entire first half, and it didn't make much of a difference. Miami hit an insane percentage of long twos, they dominated the offensive glass. It was pretty much unsustainable if the Sixers could reproduce their defensive effort in the second half, but they didn't even come close. In the second half, the Heat rarely had to rely on the long two, because the lane was wide open. The Sixers were put in an even worse position up front when Nikola Vucevic sprained his knee and had to be helped off the court, so hopefully we can chalk the fourth quarter implosion up to that and move on. I think the thing that left such a bad taste in my mouth is that the Sixers have been very good at not letting up in garbage time so far this season. The third and fourth units have kept up the defensive pressure even while protecting 20-point leads. Last night, down by even as little as 14 points mid-way through the fourth, the intensity just wasn't there.
Whatever the cause, the Sixers need to bounce back from this disastrous loss quickly. Make this game the equivalent of the loss at Chicago early last season. They have four much easier games lined up this week, all at home, all against poor teams. Get back on track quickly, get healthy against the bad teams this week.
One thing I really don't understand about this game is why Evan Turner sat on the bench for almost 10 minutes in the third quarter after being, by far, the Sixers best player in the first half. Jrue made a bad turnover about midway through the third and Collins immediately went to the bench for him, but he called on Lou Williams instead of Turner. The game was still very much within reach at that point (61-67) and I think Turner not only earned the extra minutes with his play in the first half, but he could've provided the team with the lift it needed. Lou wound up padding his stats in extended garbage time, but he in no way impacted the game the way Turner did, when the game was still a game.
The Sixers really needed a big game from Jrue last night, and he didn't deliver on the offensive end. It was another down game in a season of offensive ups-and-downs. Disappointing, to say the least.
Player of The Game: Evan Turner. 16 points on 7/13 FG, 1/2 3P, 1/2 FT, 6 boards, 4 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers. Turner also spent a lot of time guarding LeBron, sometimes for reasons unknown.
Team Record: 11-5 (still a 5-game lead in the Atlantic, thanks to the Knicks' continued implosion)
Up Next: vs. WAS, tomorrow night.