Not since Game 3 of the Flyers-Penguins 2012 series has an opponent stooped to this level of thuggery in an attempt to beat a Philly team. Granted, prior to last year, it had been since 2012 that a Philly team was relevant and warranted such tactics, but that’s beside the point. The Miami Heat are playing like asswipes, not talented enough to compete with the Sixers on merit and thus stooping to bully-ball tactics to throw the Sixers off their game.
It worked in Game 2. Last night, however, the Sixers imposed their will, stepped on the gas, and left the overmatched Heat in the dust.
The Heat are playing playground ball. A mix of also-rans and unheard-ofs, they clutch and grab and call their own fouls, clearly disregarding the spirit of the rules when they intentionally foul any player who gains a step toward the basket. Goran Dragic is the pain in the ass nerdy kid who shows up and punks his way to 20 and invites you to punch him in the face, even if you’re somewhat jealous of his abilities. Wade, who has settled on resting bitch face in old age, gets into the act by testing the restraint of younger players when he LITERALLY PULLS THEM OUT OF BOUNDS HOW IS IT THE NATIONAL CREW ON TNT FOUND NOTHING WRONG HERE:
Justin Anderson and Dwyane Wade going at it. pic.twitter.com/jD7qaOTyfB
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) April 19, 2018
I have never seen that before in basketball. Sure, you’ve seen players tangled up, occasionally yank each other. You’ve seen the post-whistle fracas. But you just don’t see a player get tugged out of bounds while play is going on. Wade wanted to get under Anderson’s skin. It worked, but it also fired a laser into Anderson’s vortex and put him in that Porsche defensive position.
But while Wade’s tactics may have seemed more calculated than emotional, this post-game quote would lead you to believe that Anderson has invaded at least a small portion of Wade’s innards:
Wade said Justin Anderson brought in by 76ers as "tough guy" and refs wouldn't do anything about it so he had to.
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 20, 2018
Anderson, who looked like he was ready for a fun a night at the hotel bar during a business retreat, wasn’t tripping:
This Justise Winslow-Joel Embiid sequence was delightful:
— Clutch Time (@ClutchPage) April 20, 2018
However it was marred by Winslow crossing the line and stepping on Embiid’s goggles:
justise winslow stepping on embiid's mask pic.twitter.com/xNDkLeYbjr
— nbaayy (@nbaayy) April 20, 2018
Remind you of anything?
None of it worked on Embiid, who was downright dominant at times:
— John Kerr (@JohnnyHeatWave) April 20, 2018
After the game, he completely laid waste to Winslow and his tactics:
“Little do they know is that I have about 50 of them, so it’s going to take much more than that to get me out of this series, and I’m going to be a nightmare for them too.”
Even Ben Simmons got in on the fun, taking a dig at Hassan Whiteside in his post-game press conference:
Simmons has dispelled any thought that he’s not a killer. He’s borderline frightening in his stoicism, which is fused with an intensity we simply don’t see out of most rookies. He watches the children fight while he plans his ritual saying, where he will undoubtedly wear this exact uniform of shirtless chains presumably carried with a carnal yell:
Ben Simmons dunk and primal scream right in Winslow's grill pic.twitter.com/eg4L4jo0rh
— Wobibrow (@World_Wide_Wob) April 20, 2018
Markelle Fultz isn’t ready for this series. He showed flashes late in the season and appeared like he could contribute in the playoffs, but he is simply not ready for this level of intensity. He dribbles waywardly into defenders and panic passes out of coverage. This is what I did in middle school and it didn’t serve me well. Even my wife, who has watched about six quarters of Sixers basketball this season, including four at Game 2, remarked that he looks and acts like a little kid on the floor. It’s unfair to mistake his demeanor for skills, but right now the two are very intertwined. Being unable to shoot is one thing– not being able to complete a simple entry pass or go one possession without looking like you’re going to unwittingly punt the ball into row four is another.
Ergo, T.J. McConnell gets some of that second half burn. I was going to Tweet – and wish I had – during Dragic’s brief foray with heroics that I needed some McConnell to restore balance to the nerdy white force. I thought better of it because I wasn’t sure T.J. could actually match it, but he then came in and did just that, scoring five points and bringing some much-needed energy. He should get the backup guard minutes over Fultz, at least for the remainder of this series. Maybe Fultz will be better served in a more wide-open affair, say against the Cavs.
Good to see the old white-haired guy who usually sits next to the Sixers’ bench at The Center. He was there last night, this time sitting on the other end of the bench, on the baseline, in what is generally considered the area for Joel Embiid’s stretching, which is something apparently Brian Anderson on TNT had never seen before.
The TNT broadcast was dreadful. I typically like to watch the national broadcast during the playoffs because it makes it feel like an event. But Anderson and Kevin McHale were particularly dreadful, seemingly unprepared on the Sixers side and fellatial on the Heat side. You would think Wade had single-handedly invented basketball, and I’m pretty sure he could’ve kicked Anderson squarely in the balls and the duo would’ve attributed it to playoff basketball. Brutal. How long until we get Breen and Van Gundy? Surely that Cavs series will draw them out, yes?
Jimmy Buffett was there. He was in his usual baseline seat last night, sitting next to Mac McAnally. I like them very much.