Trust a Process: 76ers browbeat Heat after halftime for convincing Game 1 win

The Miami Heat did what everybody expected: they came into a gym of a adored though younger Philadelphia 76ers, and punched them in a mouth. Miami angrily hung 35 points on their hosts in a opening entertain and 60 by halftime, drilling 3-pointers and relocating bodies and ball, operative overtime to cut adult a invulnerability that finished a unchanging deteriorate ranked third in a NBA in points authorised per possession.

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But a unchanging deteriorate finished Wednesday, and for Brett Brown’s mostly fresh Sixers, Saturday dusk represented a whole new ballgame. The sixth-seeded Heat brought a complicated artillery to start out, perfectionist a higher-seeded hosts infer they could respond in kind before they’d trust in a splendid immature things in a white and blue uniforms.

So a Sixers did after halftime what they’ve been doing for a past 3 months. They valid that they are for freaking real.

Even though harmed All-Star core Joel Embiid, who’s still operative his approach behind from a fractured orbital bone and whose contributions were singular to a pre-game bell-ringing rite as a “Phantom of a Process,” a Sixers positively dominated a Heat in a second half. Philly clamped down defensively in a third entertain and ran Miami off a justice with 3-point sharpened and cuts to a basket on their approach to a convincing 130-103 win in Game 1 of their first-round array on Saturday.

The Sixers’ much-lauded girl was many really served during Wells Fargo Center. Rookie of a Year favorite Ben Simmons non-stop his postseason career with a shining 17 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds and dual steals, while associate playoff debutantes Robert Covington (nine points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, extensive particular and assistance defense), Dario Saric (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) and Markelle Fultz (five points, 4 assists, dual steals, dual rebounds off a bench) all contributed to a victory. But it was several Sixers veterans who set a tinge and put Philly on a trail to a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven set.

Shooting ensure J.J. Redick, a ease and gifted sniper a Sixers paid $23 million on a one-year understanding to settle and classify a immature crew, warranted his income on Saturday, entrance alive in a second half to measure 28 points (8-for-13 shooting, 4-for-6 from 3-point range, 8-for-8 from a tainted line) in a win. Reserves Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, both of whom started a deteriorate with a Atlanta Hawks, supposing accurately a descent hint that ubiquitous manager Bryan Colangelo had hoped for when he scooped them adult on a buyout marketplace late in a campaign. The maestro shooters total for 42 points on 32 shots — including 7 of Philly’s 18 3-pointers — to assistance kickstart an descent blast after halftime that impressed a Heat, withdrawal them wondering what had strike them, beating their wounds and perplexing to regroup in hopes of salvaging a separate on a highway in Game 2 on Monday.

After examination a Heat get many of a kinds of looks they wanted in a initial half though origination required defensive tradeoffs, Brown — a longtime Gregg Popovich coadjutor in his initial playoff diversion as a conduct manager after 4 years of wading by plod and rebuilding fen in a City of Brotherly Love — non-stop a third entertain by shuffling his starting lineup. He put brave defender Amir Johnson on a dais and sent floor-spacer Ilyasova in as a widen five, forcing Heat conduct manager Erik Spoelstra to make a large decision. Would Miami keep core Hassan Whiteside on a floor, aiming to bust a small-ball Sixers adult inside? Or would Philly be means to play a Heat’s behemoth large male off a floor, forcing Spoelstra to downshift and maybe sloping a matchups in a Sixers’ favor?

The Sixers’ shuffled-up five-out offense immediately paid dividends, formulating cleaner openings for cuts and passes. When Miami couldn’t gain on a distance mismatch on a other end, Philly had found a regulation for sloping a game, opening a third entertain on a 13-3 run to recover a lead and, with 7:54 left in a quarter, forcing Spoelstra to lift a trigger and lay down his cost large male … that didn’t seem to lay all that well:

Despite Spoelstra branch behind to haven core Kelly Olynyk, who’d played splendidly in a initial half and finished with a Heat-high 26 points on 9-for-13 sharpened to go with 7 rebounds and dual assists in 31 mins off a bench, Miami only couldn’t get unstuck in a third. The Heat stayed icy, blank 10 of their initial 11 shots of a second half and finishing 5-for-19 in a entertain as they let a Sixers build movement behind positively pleasing defensive work. Philadelphia’s phalanx of well-drilled, long-armed defenders switched assignments on a fringe before recuperating to shooters, tagging rollers, removing their hands in flitting lanes, origination second efforts to competition shots on back-door cuts and late passes, and generally wreaking massacre on a Miami group that relies some-more on common execution than particular shot origination to beget peculiarity looks.

The Sixers ripped off a 20-2 run, changing a terms of engagement, and finished off a 34-18 third entertain that seemed to totally depress a visitors. Miami never again got a domain into singular digits. Redick poured in 15 points in a final support to keep a Heat during bay, and Saric and Belinelli total for 15 more, as Philly sealed a doorway with a 40-point final support that emphatically gathering a indicate home. Yeah, a 76ers are young, and yeah, this is their initial postseason rodeo, though they are here, and they’re positively prepared to whip a ruin out of anybody who stairs on a building opposite them.

This was a Sixers’ 17th true win dating behind to Mar 15, and like many of a preceding 16, it seemed officious matter-of-fact. This isn’t your normal group of first-time performers. They’re critical as a heart conflict and genuine as it gets, and it’s adult to Spoelstra and association to figure out how to shake them adult before Game 2 tips off on Monday night. Because, as it turns out, only entrance into their locus and throwing a haymaker ain’t enough. These Sixers are tough adequate to take it on a chin and lapse glow in kind until you’re looking adult during a lights, wondering what a heck only happened.

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Dan Devine is a author and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him during or follow him on Twitter!

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