Maybe this is what all that heartache set them up for. Maybe failing to close game after game after game in the regular season gave them the fortitude to never say die when the death would've been literal. Maybe it was running without a timeout, letting the players make their own luck on the floor. Whatever did it, this was easily the sweetest win of the year. A tremendous comeback topped with clutch play from the team's youngest players.
Before we get to the charts and thoughts, I want to take a look at the final 1:59 of the game, play-by-play.
- 1:59 left - Iguodala's pass to Lou on the wing is deflected. The refs initially call it Sixers ball but overturn it on replay, giving the ball to MIA. Lou definitely touched the ball, but there was a question as to whether it hit on the line before that point, and was off James Jones. Tough call to overturn in that situation, but they did overturn it. PHI 76, MIA 80
- 1:53 left - Miami uses a LeBron screen on Jrue to get Iguodala and Jrue to switch. Wade immediately gets the ball back to LeBron on the high left wing. LeBron faces up on Jrue, then tries to drive by him on the baseline. Jrue contests LeBron's runner, which comes off the rim hard. Wade crashes in from the top of the key for the offensive rebound and putback. These are the last two points Miami scores in the game. This hoop is entirely on Iguodala. He may have been thinking about doubling to help Jrue, but he never went. He got caught watching the play and never put a body on his man who got the easy tip-in. PHI 76, MIA 82
- 1:35 left - The Sixers inbound the ball to Lou who dribbles up the left side of the floor. Turner comes out and sets a high screen for Lou which gives him a little bit of a crease to get into the lane. Miami's bigs collapse on the paint and cut Lou off just below the foul line. Lou spots Jrue on the weak side and hits him with a pass. Jrue hesitates for a second, then explodes to the middle of the floor (the spot Lou just vacated before sliding to the corner), Turner is all alone on the weak side inside the three-point arc, Jrue hits him in the chest. Turner takes one dribble then hits a one-handed floater from about 8 feet over Bosh's block attempt. Good. PHI 78, MIA 82
- 1:22 left - Wade brings the ball up, Jrue is on him. Miami runs the exact same play, this time Wade doesn't get the ball to LeBron, instead he swings the ball to James Jones beyond the three-point line. Turner closes on him aggressively, chasing him off the three-point line. Jones takes one dribble inside the arc, and kicks to Chalmers in the corner. Lou is a hair late closing on him, but Chalmers misses the corner three. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the hoop, Jrue never lost body contact with LeBron. He fought him for position from the time the ball was swung to the weak side, and kept him just far enough away from the hoop so Iguodala could slide into the vacuum and sky for the board. Iguodala slightly mis-timed his jump and the ball bounced off his hands. It was headed out of bounds, but Turner came from nowhere, leaped into the air and passed the ball over James to Jrue to save possession. PHI 78, MIA 82
- 55 seconds left - Jrue pushes the ball up the court quickly, but the Sixers don't have numbers. Wade and James Jones beat them back down the floor. Jrue dribbles to the middle of the floor, then off to the right wing. Turner filters down to the baseline, passing behind Jrue while Jrue backs the dribble out. LeBron goes in front of Jrue to meet Turner on the other side of his cut, putting himself between Jrue and Wade, who was defending him. Jrue takes one dribble, squares his shoulders and sticks the three right in Wade's eye. PHI 81, MIA 82
- 46.6 seconds left - Wade brings the ball up the left side of the floor, Jrue picks him up at the Playoffs logo. No screen this time. Pure isolation, Wade on Jrue. Wade dribbles toward the lane, then goes behind his back toward the baseline. He puts Jrue on his back, dribbles once, puts one foot in the lane, then spins away from the hoop for a fadeaway 14-footer. Jrue challenges the shot with a hand in Wade's face. The shot hits front iron. Lou cuts across the lane to grab the long rebound. PHI 80, MIA 82
- 27 seconds left - Collins doesn't call a timeout, instead he does his best third base coach impression, windmilling his arm to get the Sixers to push the ball up the floor. Williams keeps the ball, dribbles up the right side. Brand sets a screen to free him up a little, he dribbles to the left side with Wade trailing him and Bosh immediately in front. He then kicks to Turner, Wade recovers onto Lou and Bosh follows Brand down into the lane. Lou pops back out near midcourt and Turner hits him with the pass. As the announcer says, "Doug wants him to shoot," Lou takes one dribble, pulls up two feet behind the line and drills a three right in Wade's face. He literally had maybe an inch of room to get that shot up before Wade blocked it, but he got it off, it went down and the Sixers took the lead. Timeout Miami. Camera pans to Rob_STC wiping sweat off his brow in the stands while the rest of the crowd goes insane. Lou doesn't act like a fool, he just walks back to the bench and the team mobs him. PHI 84, MIA 82
- 8.1 seconds left - The ball is inbounded to LeBron at the top of the key beyond the three point line. He takes one hesitation dribble, then explodes by Iguodala who turns and runs and does manage to keep himself slightly ahead of LeBron, which keeps LBJ from getting into the paint. LeBron takes a second dribble, then hesitates a little bit to let Iguodala clear before he goes up with the shot. That split second hesitation is enough to allow Brand to come from the weak side and sky to get a finger on the ball as it heads toward the hoop. Turner has a body on Wade in the lane, he gets popped in the face as he gets a finger on the ball, tipping it to Thad, then Wade shoves him to the ground and gets whistles for the loose ball foul. PHI 84, MIA 82
- 2.3 seconds left - Turner gets the ball from the ref, spins it twice in his hands, takes one dribble and cans the shot. On the second, he follows the same routine, puts the shot up on the front rim, back rim, front rim and down. 2/2 from the line. PHI 86, MIA 82
- 2.3 seconds left - Wade gets the inbound pass with Jrue on him. Jrue puts his arms straight up in the air, watches Wade pump fake once, then throw up a brick that didn't matter anyway. The crowd goes wild, Doug blows kisses. Sixers win. See you in Miami.
Player of The Game:
- Wow. I'm not really sure where to begin. This team may have holes big enough to drive a truck through. Their talent level may never get them out of the mediocre range in this league. They might get killed on Wednesday night in Miami, but one thing you can never say about them is that they lack heart. If you want to see what usually happens to overmatched teams when they get down 3-0 in a playoff series, check out the Knicks game. The Sixers never gave an inch tonight, not for a second. Every time Miami went on a run, they got right back up and punched the Heat in the mouth.
- Speaking of standing up, we also saw a little bit of fire we really haven't seen all year when Thad Young took exception to James Jones shoving Turner on a dead ball. LeBron and Hawes also got into it a little bit after Hawes gave a hard foul on LBJ. We need to see more of this on Wednesday night. You don't have to take cheap shots to display toughness, but standing up for your teammates and hard, clean fouls are a requirement.
- Iguodala scored a little more and started strong, but he really faded and didn't play much of a role at all in the final 10-0 run. It was all the young guys, plus Elton Brand's freakish wingspan on that block.
- Doug Collins may have stumbled onto something in the final 3:22 of the game. Miami went small, so Collins went smaller. Iguodala moved to the four, Turner to the three, Lou to the two, Jrue at the point and Brand stayed at center. This gave the Sixers four ballhandlers and really only two legitimate perimeter defenders out there for Miami. Expect to see Turner get a decent chunk of Thad's minutes on Wednesday.
- Player of the game could've gone to Brand (15 points, 11 boards and 2 big blocks) or Turner, who was crucial to this win (17 points, 6 boards, an assist and a block with zero turnovers), but it has to go to Lou who came up huge in the fourth, even before his killer three. Also, it was great to see Jrue come up extra large in crunch time after a poor game to that point. That's two games in a row where he hit a tremendous three in the closing seconds when the team desperately needed it. Once in James' face, and today in Wade's. His defense was also superb. Miami tried to attack him and got absolutely nothing out of it, whether it was Wade or LeBron isolating on him.
- If Spencer Hawes didn't take a single shot in this game, I would've said he was instrumental in the win. As it was (1/8 from the floor), his rebounding and (gulp) toughness (gulp) pretty much made up for the pitiful offense. His highlight was getting LeBron's head. The lowlight was allowing Mike Bibby to alter his shot, barely beating out Dwyane Wade blocking his dunk attempt.
- We've got 48 more minutes of basketball, folks. I'd like to thank the Sixers for that. Wednesday can't get here soon enough.
@ MIA, Wednesday night