Heat can expect from Sixers in Game 3 what Sixers saw from Heat in Game 2 – An angry, determined team

Miami’s Dwyane Wade slaps hands with Goran Dragic during in the second quarter of the Heat’s Game 2 victory over the 76ers on Monday in Philadelphia. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

MIAMI – Sometime between the final buzzer of a humiliating 27-point blowout loss in Game 1 of their opening round series against Philadelphia and the start of Game 2 in a raucous, obnoxious Wells Fargo Center, the Miami Heat got the message.

Dwyane Wade said it best, pointing out that the Heat played Game 1 like a “regular season game” and Game 2 like a “playoff game.” Translation: The Heat ho-hummed their way through Game 1, something we saw from this erratic team much of the season, before deciding that Eastern Conference playoff basketball requires a higher level of physical play; nasty and even at times, punkish, behavior.

The Heat mugged the Sixers in a 113-103 Game 2 victory Monday, while keeping their poise. Perhaps the most impressive stretch was not the 20-2 first-half run or building a 16-point advantage early in the fourth quarter. No, it was collecting themselves when the Sixers had cut that deficit to two points with 4:29 to play, had possession and all the momentum as their fans started mapping out a route to the NBA Finals.

First it was a Wade steal and layup, then a James Johnson dunk on a feed from Wade and a 17-footer by Goran Dragic and suddenly those plans for a second championship parade down Broad Street this year were put on hold.

That’s not to say a deep Sixers run won’t happen. And that’s not to say the Heat have Philadelphia’s number.

The Sixers arrive in Miami for Thursday’s Game 3 (7 p.m.) a bit staggered after seeing their 17-game winning streak snapped. But the Heat entered Game 2 in a similar state after Philadelphia ran them off the court in Game 1. Miami then figured out a way to find a Liberty Bell-sized crack in their opponent’s game.

The Heat should expect the Sixers to respond Thursday just as they did Monday.

“There is no being satisfied right now,” James Johnson said. “I’m not satisfied. I don’t think nobody is. We took our (27)-point ‘L’ like men and we moved on. Now we have to take this win and move on.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown reminded his players over and over he expected the Heat to look much different in Game 2.

Now, Erik Spoelstra has to send that same message to his resilient team about Game 3.

“If you watched any of our games this year with Philly they’re just crazy games, so competitive,” Spoelstra said. “All we did was get one game. We have to get back to Miami and rest for a day and start to gear up again. This is a very competitive series.”

Just as the Heat made adjustments on the Sixers’ 3-point shooters and the way they bodied point guard Ben Simmons, the Sixers will make adjustments of their own, starting with likely being more physical with Wade, who sparked Miami with a 28-point effort. The last thing the 76ers want is for Wade to come out in a groove again, especially at home, which would energize the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd.

Philadelphia also could be working on integrating All-Star center Joel Embiid back into the lineup. Embiid made it clear he wants to become a participant and not a by-stander in this series in a profane-laced social media post following the game that cannot sit well with his organization. But it likely means he will be back in uniform Thursday after missing 10 games since fracturing his left orbital bone and suffering a concussion on March 28.

Embiid said he was being babied, which clearly suggests he believes he should be playing by now. He has been working up a sweat the last few days, running around the court, shooting jumpers and testing out the protective mask he will be forced to wear.

Philadelphia’s game will change with the 7-foot Embiid on the floor. They are not quite as fast but he gives them a true presence down low while having the skills to knock down 3-pointers. Remember, Embiid made 66 3-pointers this season, which, by the way, was 66 more than Simmons, who missed all 11 of his attempts on the year.

Whiteside, who has played just 28 minutes in this series because of matchups and foul difficulty, finally will be able to pick on someone his own size with Embiid in the lineup. Both stand 7-foot.

“They’re a different team (without Embiid),” Whiteside said. “They’re a lot of faster, they move the ball so much. When he’s out there, you know where the ball is going. But it’s like, they’re moving it, flare, backdoor. It’s a different team.”

But the Heat should expect “a different team” whether or not Embiid returns.

“It always feels great when you win a game, especially after the first one,” Dragic said. “It was really disappointing how we played (in Game 1). We showed we can bounce back. But it’s just the beginning. We still have a lot of games left.”

[Heat contest, bully Simmons, Sixers’ 3-point shooters while tying up the series]

[Dwyane Wade produces another ‘moment’ when Heat needed it most in Game 2]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]