“You want to look and see where you can be better at. It’s easy to say that this series wasn’t a ‘big-man’ series. Or it’s easy to say that coach did this or that or I got in foul trouble. Don’t give yourself an excuse. Just go into the summer and work on what you need to work on mentally and physically and get yourself ready for when this opportunity comes again. That shows your real character.”
Whiteside played just 10:05 Tuesday, scoring two points and missing all four of his shots. He averaged just 15.4 minutes, 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in the series. This from the team’s highest paid player who is due $52.5 million the next two years, the final two of the $98 million deal he signed two summers ago.
But as he has most of the series and at different times during the season, Whiteside cited his lack of minutes when asked about his decreased productivity.
And when asked what was most frustrating for the team in this series, Whiteside made it about himself.
“Not being out there,” he said. “At least give me a chance to fight. I can understand if I was playing 30 minutes and I played bad. At least give me a chance.”
Whiteside’s season ended just 3:45 into the third quarter when he was replaced by Bam Adebayo and never returned, similar to Game 2 when he played 2:35 of the third quarter and sat the rest of the game.
“I thought I was going to go back in, but I didn’t,” Whiteside said.
Whiteside had “nothing to say” when asked what he took from this series but later added this situation is “definitely something” he can discuss with coach Erik Spoelstra and president Pat Riley during the offseason.
“We played a style of play coach wanted,” Whiteside said. “He wanted to utilize more spacing I guess in the playoffs, so that’s why he did it.”
Spoelstra, who clearly did not trust Whiteside in big situations, would not criticize his center on Tuesday and even said he “grew” this season despite Whiteside’s profane-laced rant late in the season about his playing time. The organization fined Whiteside an undisclosed amount.
“I look back on the season and he had a lot of great moments,” Spoelstra said. “It was a little bit uneven and a lot of it, to be fair, was him in and out of the lineups with his injuries. Our team would evolve and all of a sudden he would have to try to play back in and then do this all with the scrutiny and noise with everything outside.
“I think he grew this year. I think there are uncomfortable times and there are times when he wanted to have more of an impact. I love that. I don’t want players who want to sit on the bench and be cool with that. But he learned how to manage things and handle things better, with more professionalism and class. That will serve him well going forward.”
Whiteside’s scoring and rebounding dipped during the season with averages of 14.0 points and 11.4 rebounds. He missed 28 games, mostly due to two different bruises to his left knee and a strained left hip flexor.
PHILADELPHIA – The Miami Heat entered the postseason as the No. 6 seed believing they had a chance against the youthful, upstart and No. 3-seeded Philadelphia 76ers because of their experience.
But it was the 76ers and their mixture of rising young stars and savvy veterans that dominated this series.
That 76ers broke open a close game early in the third quarter and defeated the Heat, 104-91, Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia, playing in its first postseason in six years, advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals to face the winner of the series between No. 2 Boston and No. 7 Milwaukee. Boston leads the series, 3-2.
The Sixers, who at one point would have just been happy to make the playoffs this season, now have set their sights on the NBA Finals.
“You can lose with effort, you lose to a better team and that’s what they are,” Dwyane Wade said. “We did our job. They have more than us.”
After being eliminated in five games, the Heat now face an uncertain future.
“To get knocked out of the playoffs, whether it’s the later rounds or not, it never ends well,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But, it doesn’t take away from the experiences we had for six months.”
The Sixers, who have won 20-of-21 games, including entering the postseason on a 16-game winning streak, won this series without ever leading at the half. Miami had the lead after the first 24 minutes in each of the first four games and Game 5 was tied at 46 at the half.
But Philadelphia decided not to wait for the fourth quarter in this game and ended the Heat’s season in the third quarter when it outscored Miami 34-20 to take an 80-66 lead in the final 12 minutes.
The Heat cut the lead to eight with a 10-0 run but never really put a scare into the Sixers.
The Heat were led by Kelly Olynyk’s 18 points. Tyler Johnson added 16 before fouling out.
JJ Redick had 27 for Philadelphia.
Here are our five takeaways:
What’s next?: Making the playoffs was a step forward, but being eliminated in five games wasn’t what president Pat Riley envisioned. Now, Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg must get creative if they are to improve this roster. Miami is committed to nearly $120 million in contracts next season, about $20 million over the cap. The only way the Heat becomes a legitimate contender is through trades to either dump enough salary to become a player in free agency or acquire a star to move up in a weak Eastern Conference.
“It feels like we accomplished what we wanted to by making the playoffs but there’s not satisfying feeling when you lose,” James Johnson said. “It’s a tough one but it’s motivation.”
Fourth quarter doesn’t matter: Miami did not have to wait until the fourth quarter to let this game slip away. The Heat entered Game 5 having been outscored 127-85 in the fourth quarter in this series and led in the final quarter in both games at home before giving both away. The final game of the season was lost in third quarter when the Sixers outscored Miami, 34-20, and turned a 48-46 deficit early in the quarter into a nine-point lead with an 11-0 run. The Sixers pushed the lead to 18 points in the final minutes of the quarter. Philadelphia shot 12 of 24 in the quarter while the Heat shot 7 of 22.
“The second half it felt like the majority of our fourth quarters versus Philadelphia,” Spoelstra said. “Each one of the games … they stepped up their defense in the fourth quarter. It was tough for us to generate good clean offense or at least getting the ball where we wanted it to go to and executing with some level of coherency. But you have to credit them. They have very good length. They have a consistently well coached, well drilled big in the paint that can fill in the gaps in a lot of different areas. So, I would say as their offense has gotten better during the course of the season their defense was already pretty darn good.”
Is this it for Dwyane Wade?: Dwyane Wade did not want to discuss the possibility that this could be his final season after Game 4, but the questions will start coming much more frequently now that his 15th season is in the books. Wade, though, likely will not make that decision for months as he waits to see what direction the team goes and decides if he wants to put in the work it takes to prepare for an NBA season. Wade, 36, was solid after being reacquired by the Heat at the Feb. 8 trade deadline and enjoyed his role as the leader of the Heat’s second unit. He continued to produce in the playoffs with two games of at least 25 points and finishing as the Heat’s second-leading scorer behind Goran Dragic. Wade finished the game with 11 points but shot just 4 of 15.
“Y’all know I’ve given it thought,” Wade said. “This is Philly and I love Philly, but there isn’t going be breaking news here. I appreciate y’all’s concern, but we’ll worry about that later. I’m not gonna break nothing here.”
Starting five struggles: The Heat’s starters entered Game 5 with a minus-13 in this series, tied for the worst plus-minus of any five-man group on the team. And it wasn’t much better in Game 5 as the starters were outscored by 12 while on the floor. The Heat trailed 8-3 after Josh Richardson was called for his second foul just 91 seconds into the game and replaced by Rodney McGruder. Hassan Whiteside also got into early foul trouble leading to heavy minutes by the bench. Richardson, Whiteside and James Johnson, 60 percent of the starting lineup, all were scoreless in the first half and finished the game with six points, with Richardson going scoreless. In the second half, the starters were a minus-7 when Bam Adebayo replaced Whiteside.
“They know what to take away, every possession they take away your strength and you can see they have a lot of guys who can play multiple positions especially defensively they’re switching a lot so it’s really tough to get those triggers for us,” Dragic.
Heat continued to get beat on the boards: The Heat were dominated by the Sixers on the glass the entire series. Philadelphia owned a 197-165 edge on the boards in the first four games, including outrebounding Miami, 57-43, in Game 4 and Game 5 was no different. The Sixers ended the game with a 53-40 edge on the glass, including a 15-9 advantage in the decisive third quarter. The Sixers led the league in rebounding during the regular season.
Udonis Haslem, who came into the league the same year as Wade, also will weigh his options once the season ends. And although Haslem said today that he has not made a decision – “I got a lot of time to think about that this summer,” he said – he has started cherishing the experiences more with the end nearing.
“As you get older and you spend more time in this league and around younger guys, you just start to soak everything in a little more,” Haslem, 37, said following the Heat’s shootaround in preparation for tonight’s Game 5 against the Sixers. Miami trails in the series, 3-1.
“It just gradually comes with the territory, comes with the job. As every year goes by, I started to appreciate different things about the job and the situation, opportunities that I’ve had the last 15 years. But, also, I’ve started to appreciate more the things that I missed out on over the last 15 years. So, it’s one of those things where I’ll take my time in the summer and just decide what my next step will be.”
Haslem’s value to the Heat transcends his minutes. He played in just 14 games, averaging just 5.1 minutes and scoring eight points all season.
But it was Haslem often seen mentoring players, walking onto the court during time outs to seek out a teammate and even getting into a huddle to share his opinion. Several players have cited Haslem’s leadership and experience contributing to their growth and development.
Haslem and Wade are close friends. Both are in their 15th season and have been teammates for 13.5 of those. They have that bond of coming into the league at the same time (2003) and are the only players in Heat history to be a part of three championships. Their families vacation together during the summer.
And they have talked about retiring together so their decisions could be tied to one another. Wade was asked the same question about possibly retiring after Miami’s Game 4 loss and said he “didn’t want to answer that right now.”
Haslem was asked today if it will be a package deal with Wade if they return.
“If we’re going to split the money. … because I know he going to get more than me,” Haslem joked. “That’s the only way we’re going to package it, we’ll crunch that money down the middle.
“Nah, you know what, we want to finish. That’s something we’ve talked about and that’s been our goal. But things change. So, we’ll see. We’re going to have a lot of conversations this summer. He’s going to try to teach me how to play golf. I don’t know how in the hell, because he just learned. But we’re going to have a lot of conversations this summer, too, so we’ll figure it out.”
MIAMI – The big question as Ben Simmons dribbled out the final five seconds of the 76ers’ 106-102 victory Saturday, what went through Dwyane Wade’s mind.
Was the 36-year-old thinking about Game 5, and what his team, down 3-1, had to do bring this series back to Miami? Did he fast forward to next season, wondering what Pat Riley’s plan was to put enough talent around him to make sure the Heat are not in this position again?
Or, did Wade take a look at the rafters, nostalgia piercing though his veins, see the banners depicting three championships, all of which he played an important role in, and, more importantly, the retired numbers and figure he would join them sooner rather than later, knowing there would not be a next, and 16th, season?
Wade did not answer that question as to whether Saturday was his final game at AmericanAirlines Arena, but he sure knows how put some drama into a non-answer.
After a long pause, a glance around the room and an wry smile, here is what Wade said:
“I don’t want to answer that right now. I’ve got another game to play. I’m focused on the next game.”
Wade is in his 15th season, all but 1.5 of those with the Heat. Barring a very unlikely Heat comeback to the young, talented Sixers, the Heat re-acquiring Wade on trade deadline day will be the highlight of a season that will end with a very unsatisfying feeling.
Wade quickly put his stamp on this team and emerged as one of its better players, which tells you why Miami is on the brink of its season coming to an end. His 25-point performance, in which he scored 12 of the Heat’s 19 fourth quarter points, was the second time this series Wade put this team on his shoulders.
The first time, Game 2 in Philadelphia, Wade had enough help to complete the chore. Saturday was a different story.
“I definitely was trying to lead my team,” Wade said. “Coach put the ball in my hand and I was trying to lead us to try to steal one, in a sense, once they took the lead, we were trying to steal one here back at home, so we could go back 2-2.”
Erik Spoelstra has not hesitated to turn to Wade since the future Hall of Famer returned on Feb. 8. Several times Wade has taken big shots, some potential game-winners in the final seconds. Sometimes they went in and sometimes they didn’t.
Twice in this series the game was in Wade’s hand. He was able to deliver with 28 points, including a steal and dunk after the Sixers climbed to within two points late in the Heat’s Game 2 victory in Philadelphia. And on Saturday, his 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting wasn’t enough.
This despite Wade scoring Miami’s final seven points, all coming in the final 1:45.
“Dwyane’s been in these situations forever,” Spoelstra said. “When their defense tightened up, particularly the last three, four minutes down the stretch he ended up being our best option to be able to create something for us. We’ve come to know that Dwyane for a long time. As the game gets more intense, the context of the game goes to that level, he becomes more calm.”
Wade admitted the Heat are in an uphill fight, and were from the jump in this series. He has referenced several times the Sixers being the No. 3 seed – “They’re the third seed. We’re not the third seed, we’re coming in and we’re trying to cause some havoc and we’re trying to make a series out of this,” – and knows it will take an extraordinary effort on Tuesday to keep the Sixers and their fans from celebrating their first playoff series victory in six years on their home court.
“Each individual feels like they lost the game because they turned it over or because we got a bad shot or because we messed up a defensive assignment,” Wade said about the mood in the Heat locker room on Saturday.
“And ultimately it’s a team thing. We didn’t come out with a win. We didn’t do enough as a group to win the ballgame. We’re going to get back to finding out what it is to try to get better, to get to that point. Like I told them, ‘we have nothing to lose, man. … Our only goal, our only thing we have to do is put everything we have on the line.’ We’re trying to make a series out of this so let’s go in and just play free but play hard, play the Miami Heat way, live with the results from there.”
“I’d rather be in their position, I’ll tell you that, figuring out how to close out 3-1,” Wade said after his 25-point performance nearly lifted the Heat back to victory after they let a double-digit, late-third-quarter lead slip away. “From our standpoint it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be one of the hardest things we’ve tried to accomplish as a team to try to bring it back here to Miami, and we gotta understand that.
“We gotta go in and put our hard hats on and go after it. We can’t worry about them. They’re in a good position. We’re the ones trying to come from behind. So we’ll see what happens Tuesday.”
The Heat, despite coming from 3-1 down to win a playoff series only once in franchise history, are not finished in this first-round, Eastern Conference series. Simple math proves that.
But they will be finished after Tuesday night’s Game 5 back in Philly if they don’t find a way to finish.
Like finishing at the basket. Miami in Game 3 was 25-for-46 on shots at the rim, missing layups and short jumpers, many on shots intimidated by Philadelphia’s 7-foot, 260-pound center Joel Embiid, who officially was credited with five blocks and whose rim protection “won us the game,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said.
Like finishing at the free-throw line. Coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t mask his feelings after Saturday’s loss. The Heat let one get away, partly by missing nearly half of their foul shots, going 13-for-25 from the line.
Like finishing defensive possessions. Miami has been crushed on the glass in the series (and was outrebounded 57-43 in Game 4), but the 76ers have done particular damage with offensive rebounds at crucial times to score on putbacks or by kicking them out for 3-pointers.
But, mostly, the Heat have to get better at finishing games — or their season will be finished after one more.
On Saturday, Miami led 81-71 with 3:09 to play in the third quarter. From there, the 76ers went on a 21-4 run, bolstered by missed shots close to the basket, blown defensive assignments and poor rebounding by Miami. Wade scored seven straight points as Miami cut a seven-point deficit to one in the closing seconds, but he also missed a crucial free throw in the final seconds. Miami also let 76ers rookie guard Ben Simmons barrel down the lane uncontested for a two-handed dunk and on Philadelphia’s next possession left J.J. Redick, one of the NBA’s best shooters, all alone for an easy jumper.
“It was one of those moments where, for me, I just wanted us to get a stop or two,” Wade said. “I felt like I could win us one at home. We couldn’t get it. We made some mistakes down in the end. They made us pay. … Whether it’s getting offensive rebounds or miscommunications, we had to do a better job.”
The series has been physical, fast, fun and highly competitive. Neither team is acting like it’s a 3-1 series.
“We are going to Philadelphia looking forward to playing for an amazing home-court advantage,” said Brown, who said his team probably had “no right winning” Saturday’s game after how sloppily it played the first three quarters and finishing with 27 turnovers. “We are going to come in, bunker down and try to get better. We sure hope that equals a win.”
His young, talented point guard echoed the sentiment. “We have to finish it,” Simmons said. “We have to be locked in for that game coming up.”
Spoelstra knows his team has to finish or be finished.
“We all feel that we’re this close, and that’s what makes this game tough,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve had a tough time finishing games against Philadelphia, and that’s been the issue.”
No, it’s not over. But does anybody really believe the Miami Heat can win three straight games against this young, talented Philadelphia team? Especially when the opportunity was there to tie up this series before Miami melted down at home in the fourth quarter for the second straight game?
The Heat trail 3-1 in this opening-round series after a second straight loss at home, this one by a much closer count of 106-102, which makes this even more maddening for the Heat.
The Heat saw their chance to make this a series disappear in a 19-1 Philadelphia run that spanned the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, turning a Sixers 10-point deficit into a four-point lead.
Now, Miami must do something it has done once in its history – overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series. And that only happened because of a brawl that resulted in half the Knicks team being suspended over the final two games of that 1997 Eastern Conference semifinal after a brawl in Game 5.
“It’s going to be one of the toughest thing we try to accomplish as a team is to try to bring it back here to Miami,” Dwyane Wade said.
This game was decided by the Heat’s lack of focus, and this starless team is not good enough to lose focus and win a game. Not against the Sixers and not against anybody, as we have seen now for 86 games.
The Heat barely made half their free throws (13 of 25), including missing 3-of-5 in the final 2:37.
Make 72 percent and they win the game.
But more disappointing were the breakdowns in the final minutes.
It started when the Heat rolled out the red carpet for Ben Simmons, giving the versatile point guard a clear path to the basket and an easy dunk. … with the Heat trailing by one.
The Heat again cut it to one with Wade putting the team on his shoulders, again, this time with 25 points. But this time it was JJ Redick, one the best shooters in recent history, who was left wide open on the right baseline for an easy jumper.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, though disappointed with these breakdowns, wasn’t about to blame his defense. In fact, Spoelstra’s tone after the loss was very calm and collected, not wanting to put his team on edge with the Sixers still needing one game to close out the series.
“This team has a lot of different triggers you have to deal with,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not as if you can just focus on one guy. It’s not necessarily just a complete breakdown, that’s what this team does.”
But the biggest brain cramp occurred with 17.6 seconds to play. With Wade at the foul line, Josh Richardson stood at 3-point line, his head down, allowing Redick to charge to the basket like a free safety on a blitz to collect the rebound. Reddick was untouched, until he secured the ball. And then he was fouled sending a 90-percent free throw shooter to the line with his team leading by two.
Game – season – over.
And the Sixers did all they could to give away this game with 27 turnovers leading to 30 Heat points.
“The fact that you can actually win a playoff game with this volume of turnovers is mind-boggling,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
“I’m shocked that we won this game. We really didn’t have a right to win this game.”
But should he be? This is an atypically mature, poised team whose two best players – and the two best players in this series – are rookies who never have tasted the intensity of the playoffs.
Yet, it’s that team, it’s Simmons and Joel Embiid and Dario Saric and the other young Sixers who showed the poise down the stretch.
“They’re special,” Wade said. “They put the right team together. Sometimes the playoffs become too big for certain guys. Sometimes you can’t match that intensity. They play that way already. They play with an intense level.”
Now, the season is on brink. One more loss and an offseason of soul searching and plenty of questions ranging from the futures of Wade (will he retire) and Hassan Whiteside (will he be traded).
But while that task appears insurmountable going back to a crazed fanbase that has not tasted the playoffs in six seasons, the Heat certainly are thinking that way.
MIAMI – Justise Winslow isn’t reacting to his $15,000 fine for intentionally stepping on a part of Joel Embiid’s mask during Game 3.
“I’m not going to even talk about it right now,” the Heat forward said before today’s Game 4. “My focus is on the game. It is what it is but I’m still out there playing.
“I didn’t get suspended so I’m going to do what I can to help my team win. I’m not concerned about it right now.”
Winslow, who is making $2.8 million this season, was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct. The incident occurred with 7:51 remaining in the second quarter of the Heat’s 128-108 loss to the Sixers on Thursday in Game 3 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Winslow spotted the lens attached to the inside of Embiid’s mask on the floor and clearly intentionally stepped on it before picking it up as a time out was being called.
Embiid had to come out of the game as the Sixers repaired the mask. He was wearing the mask to protect his fractured orbital bone, which forced him to miss Philadelphia’s previous 10 games.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he spoke with Winslow about the incident.
“We talked to him about it, we accept that fine,” he said. “It doesn’t add a distraction.”
Spoelstra then downplayed the significance of Winslow’s act.
“Adds to the side stories to what’s really going on,” he said.
Embiid joked about the situation.
“Justise stepped on it and tried to break it with his hands, but little does he know, I have about 50 of them,” Embiid said after Game 3. “So it’s going to take much more than that to get me out of this series. I’m going to be a nightmare for them, too.”
Embiid finished Game 3 with 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in his playoff debut.
Winslow had his playoff career high 19 points in Game 3, all in the first half.
MIAMI – Just when Heat guard Tyler Johnson was starting to find a groove offensively in this series he ran into Sixers center Joel Embiid, lost his balance and tried to brace himself with his left hand.
Minutes later, after a Heat timeout, Johnson came back onto the floor with his hand taped to stabilize his thumb.
“I lost my balance when I ran into him,” Johnson said today following practice. “I tried to brace myself on the floor and jammed my thumb.
“We got a little tape job on it. That’s more to make it a little bit more comfortable. It’s a little sore, nothing that’s not manageable.”
X-rays were negative and Johnson will be in the lineup for Saturday’s crucial Game 4 of this opening-round series with the Heat trailing the series 2-1 after Philadelphia’s 128-108 Game 3 victory.
Johnson looked more comfortable offensively on Thursday, helping the Heat early with eight quick points. He made all four of his shots, three coming before the injury, and finished with 10 points in just 17 minutes. Johnson, though, did not have a rebound or an assist.
Johnson struggled during the first two games in Philadelphia with 14 points on 3-of-10 shooting. In Game 3, he equaled his entire field goal output for the first two games in the first five minutes with Miami’s first two baskets (both 3-pointers) and a 21-foot jumper. He scored eight of Miami’s first 11 points.
But the Heat’s starting shooting guard is not worried about the team’s offense. The Heat have allowed the two highest scoring games in their playoff history in Games 1 and 3 of this series. The Sixers’ 130-103 Game 1 victory was then followed by a 113-103 Heat answer in Game 2 before Philadelphia turned a two-point game after three quarters on Thursday into a rout.
“There are ways we can continue to get better at our defense,” he said. “For the most part, we scored enough points (in Game 3) to win. We scored enough points in Game 1 to win. It’s going to have to be more like how it was in game, 2 trying to hold them under 100.”
Johnson was asked where the Heat can improve defensively.
“Everywhere,” he said. “Catch and shoot. Making sure we limit their transition buckets. Their offensive rebounds continue to get us in trouble a little bit.
“They’re getting whatever they wanted half-court offense and then you throw on top their fast breaks, just because of who they are, they are going to get some, that’s when it’s tough.”
“They were physical from the start. I’m appreciative and take whatever opportunity that I am given. After watching the first two games from the bench, I have recognized the physicality is real high and I just mentally prepared myself for that if I go in.
“I have to hit first or else they’re going to hit me.”
The Sixers responded, out-muscling the Heat in a 128-108 victory, taking a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven opening-round series and regaining homecourt advantage. The game was a throwback to the 1990s when Heat-Knicks series saw bodies flying all over the court, but with about 80 more points on the board. Miami and New York played 24 postseason games from the 1996-97 season to 1999-00, and just twice were there more fouls called than the 56 between the Heat and Sixers on Thursday and once were there more than the 72 free throws that were taken on Thursday.
The combined fouls equals the season high for a Heat game this season and the free throws is the most in any game.
“It was pretty physical both ways,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who team was whistled for a season-high 30 fouls, 10 of those drawn by Sixers center Joel Embiid, who was playing for the first time in the series. Embiid missed the 10 previous games (eight regular season) after suffering a fractured orbital bone.
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons heard for 72 hours how the Heat’s blueprint to slow him down is to bump and bang him, the entire 94 feet if necessary. Justise Winslow was his main antagonist in Miami’s Game 2 victory, at times frustrating Simmons, who was not as impactful in that game as he was in Philadelphia’s Game 1 victory despite an impressive stat line.
Simmons, who at 6-10, 230, attacks the rim mainly because of his poor outside shot, welcomes that type of play.
“I love it when guys are trying to throw elbows or whatever it is,” he said. “Being from Australia, I played Australian football, so I’m used to it. It makes me play better.”
Wade and Covington started the double-technical trend. Later in the second quarter James Johnson and Simmons were chirping and each received a technical. In the third quarter Marco Belinelli intentionally fouled Goran Dragic, who made the shot and then flexed in Belinelli’s face, drawing technical fouls.
“I was proud of our team as we accepted the physicality in a way that was technically fundamental,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
The Sixers did more than accept the Heat’s physical play. They punched back and still played their game. For the second time in the series the Sixers had 18 3-pointers and shot better than 50 percent from long distance.
“We don’t want to be in shootouts with this team, so we got to find ways to be more physical and control their shooters and their scoring,” Winslow said. “I think for three quarters, we did a good job.”
Philadelphia led by two entering the fourth quarter before outscoring Miami, 32-14, in the final 12 minutes.
And according to Wade, do not expect anything different than an old fashioned Eastern Conference postseason throwdown moving forward. Game 3 is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“It’s the playoffs, baby,” Wade said. “I wish the whistle didn’t blow as much as it did. We’re fine with it. Let it go, man. Nobody wants to get into fights. But there’s going to be some body-on-body. There’s going to be some man-on-man combat in this series.
“This is what competitors love to play in. The physicality doesn’t matter. We want them to be physical and we’re going to be physical.”
MIAMI – Hassan Whiteside’s frustration is mounting
The Heat’s 7-foot big man was asked what has happened this series after taking one shot and scoring five points in just 13 minutes of the Heat’s 128-108 Game 3 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday.
“It’s just different, man,” he said. “I feel like our offense is a lot different. I’m not as involved in as many dribble hand-offs as I was and post ups as I was in the regular season.
“That’s what coach wants. Coach wants me to just be in the corner and set picks. That’s what he wants. I’ve just got to trust it.”
Whiteside’s only basket, and shot, in Game 3 came on a lob from Dwyane Wade with 8:41 to play in the game. He not only was ineffective offensively, but contributed just two rebounds while committing four fouls.
Whiteside is averaging 3.7 points and 4.0 rebounds for the series while shooting 3 of 7. He has played 41 minutes.
And Spoelstra seems as confused as Whiteside on how to get the $98 million man involved.
“He might not necessarily put up the numbers, but it’s part of my job – to figure it out and figure out how he can get to his strengths and be an impact player for us,” Spoelstra said. “It starts with the defense, the rebounding. It’s a lot of responsibilities for us offensively. I’ll spend some time working that out in the next day in a half.”
Wade was asked about the message he will send Whiteside.
“Come in tomorrow and learn from it and get ready to play Game 4.”
Whiteside referenced his minutes when asked about the lack of rebounding. Whiteside led the league in rebounding in 2016-17 with 14.1 per game and this season averaged 11.4 rebounds.
“Yeah, I want to get more rebounds out there,” he said. “I want to get more minutes out there. I’m just going to keep trusting coach’s decision making. Even with the fouls, I still could have been out there. I wouldn’t have fouled out. I am going to keep trusting coach’s decision making.
Whiteside has been in foul trouble in two of three games in the series. He has nine fouls in the three games.
“Last game, it was a couple screens,” he said. “I talked to the guards. They said they should have waited on a couple of screens. It’s frustrating sometimes when you’re playing physical and coach wants you to play physical and then you get in foul trouble.
“I could have stayed down on the pump fake here and there. I watched the film, other the one I jumped for the pump fake, I didn’t really see no other fouls.”
All-Star center Joel Embiid returned to the Sixers lineup after missing 10 games because of a fractured orbital bone and scored a team-high 23 points while pulling down seven rebounds. Embiid was active enough to get to the line 15 times, making 10. Embiid, who wore a protective mask, played 30 minutes.
“They run enough plays for him that he’s going to get his numbers,” Whiteside said. “I don’t really get caught up in that.
“He lives a big man’s dream. He gets the ball, he gets the post up every other play. They pretty much run a lot of stuff through him and Ben Simmons. His shot attempts are going to be there.”
Whiteside was asked what more he can do.
“I’m trying to figure that out right now,” he said. “I guess I just got to try to score on offensive rebounds maybe and keep running the floor and try to get alley oops but other than that it’s a lot different, it’s a lot different than the regular season.”