PHILADELPHIA – Tough to find anything positive out of the 76ers’ dismantling of the Heat Saturday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series, but Miami did have a couple of things go right.
Kelly Olynyk was the beneficiary of another Hassan Whiteside no-show, leading the Heat with 26 points in 9-of-13 shooting and sharing team-high honors in rebounding with Justise Winslow. Both had seven.
Olynyk continues to show he is among the smartest and most savvy players in the league, scoring around and rim against much more athletic defenders and stepping out to either drain threes (he made 4-of-5 in Game 1), head fake a defender or deliver a perfectly placed pass.
The Heat were hit with a barrage of “what happened” questions following their second-half meltdown that resulted in the 130-103 loss so when Olynyk was asked why he was able to find success among the carnage he found it difficult to answer. Olynyk was not in the mood to celebrate his personal achievement.
“I was able to make a couple of shots early and get going and then they switched some stuff that allowed me to do some things,” he said. “They try to take away certain stuff, they’re going to have to give up something.”
We could also talk about the 12-of-26 shooting on threes, but of course that was overshadowed by the Sixers’ ridiculous 18-of-28 night on 3-pointers, the most threes allowed by the Heat in the postseason, which became a theme with Miami also giving up the most points it ever has in a playoff game.
Then there was James Johnson’s first half – 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting – but that quickly disappeared as he went scoreless in the second half while taking just two shots.
Other than that. … let’s just say the Heat will have plenty to work on when they gather today at Temple University for practice.
“There was a lot of things we didn’t do well, obviously,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to limit them. We know they’re great catch-and-shoot players and with such great catch-and-shooters like that you’ve got to expect the back door, So, you know, you’ve got to get up on the outside shoulder. You’ve got to chase it. They did a lot of great things that we have habits for. We just fell short.”
Nobody has been through the ups and downs of the postseason on this team more than Dwyane Wade. He has seen the Heat win the first game and lose the series. He has seen the Heat lose the first game and win the next four.
But trying to gauge how this group responds is difficult for him, something he will not know until they hit the floor for Monday’s Game 2.
“I’ve been through so many scenarios, but for this team, a new group of guys coming in, they have to learn from it,” Wade said. “You’ve got to go watch the film to see what we can do better. It’s a lot of things you think by the naked eye that we can do but we need to take the time to see how we’re going to be better in the series.
“It’s a seven-game series and they beat our butt in the first one. But at the end of the day, they’re up 1-0 no matter which way they did it. But we definitely have to make adjustments. We can’t go into the game saying, ‘Well, they’re not going to make those shots again.’ Because they made those shots, they went in. They were shooting them. We can’t be surprised coming into the next game knowing they’re going to make some tough ones. We have to continue to make them tougher than we did (in Game 1).”