NBA Playoffs 2018: Philadelphia 76ers trounce Miami Heat, 130-103, to take Game 1
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat in 1st round of NBA playoffs
Gallery: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat in 1st round of NBA playoffs
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers entered their first postseason in six years with plenty of momentum from a 16-game winning streak, a mix of dazzling young talent and steady veterans and a fearlessness that seems to stem from a youthful invincibility.
But there was an area where the Sixers, youth and all, occasionally seemed to falter. Philadelphia struggled to close out teams in the fourth quarter, watching double-digit leads evaporate and turning blowouts into nail-biters.
So when JJ Redick put the Sixers up by 15 on the Miami Heat less than 30 seconds into the fourth quarter Saturday, it set up another gut check for Philadelphia at the most significant stage yet. With a large group of players making their playoff debuts, could the Sixers close out their first postseason victory in six years?
The answer, resoundingly — and appropriately, with former Sixers star Allen Iverson sitting courtside — was yes.
The Sixers trounced the Heat, 130-103, at Wells Fargo Center to take a 1-0 lead in their opening round series. The teams meet again in South Philly on Monday night.
Ben Simmons talks about first playoff game with Philadelphia 76ers
Rookie Ben Simmons finished one rebound shy of a triple-double in his first career playoff game, while Redick dropped a team-high 28 points and reserves Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova chipped in 25 points and 17 points and 14 rebounds, respectively.
Miami was led by Kelly Olynyk’s team-high 26 points off the bench, while James Johnson had 13.
The Sixers blitzed the Heat in the third quarter to put themselves in the position to pull away. Goran Dragic (15 points) hit a 3-pointer less than a minute into the third to put the Heat up 63-56. After that, the Sixers uncorked a 20-2 run, with the team taking its first double-digit lead on three free throws from Redick.
Later, Simmons crossed up Olynyk on the baseline and dunked for one of the game’s top highlights.
With five players in double figures, the Sixers got contributions from across the roster. Dario Saric had 20 points and was a big part of the second-half explosion, and Robert Covington scored nine. Even rookie Markelle Fultz provided a highlight of the night with some nifty dribbling in the paint and a layup.
The Sixers and Heat played a back-and-forth first half, and the visitors entered halftime with a 60-56 lead. Miami got a boost from Olynyk off the bench and shot 47.6 percent from the floor over the first two quarters. Miami led by as many as 12.
Brett Brown discusses Philadelphia 76ers 130-103 win over Miami Heat in NBA playoffs
The Sixers, though, didn’t wilt when their deficit ballooned to 35-23 late in the first quarter. Philadelphia was out-rebounded, 27-25, through the first 24 minutes of play, but the defense held Dragic to 2 of 8 shooting. That helped set the stage for the Sixers to work their way back into the game.
Simmons drove to the hoop for a dunk and Covington hit a step-back 3-pointer to kick-start a 17-3 run to put the Sixers back in front. Neither team gained much separation after that.
In the second half, the Sixers showed their mettle. These Sixers had never been here before. But with a 27-point win, they showed they might be here a while.