Tag:Philadelphia 76ers
Posted on: April 12, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: April 12, 2011 10:23 am
 

Howard holds 'moment of silence' for dunk victim

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard asks for a "moment of silence" after dunking over Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Even throughout all his bitterness towards NBA officials, it's important to remember something about Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard: he has an amazing sense of humor. 

During the third quarter of a Monday night game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Howard threw down an absolutely vicious alley oop slam dunk over Sixers guard Jrue Holiday. Trailing a transition play with the Magic leading 56-54, Howard rose way up to snare a lofted pass from Magic guard Jameer Nelson, catching the ball in one motion and pounding it down on Holiday, who did his best to get out of the way.

The only thing better than the dunk was Howard's post-game comment about it, taken down by the Orlando Sentinel.
“Sometimes, like your momma says, when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time bad things happen,” Howard opined.
“Really, I was just going to lay the ball up, and then Jrue jumped. I feel bad for his head. Let’s have a moment of silence for Jrue.”
Howard then lowered his head.
Here's video of the dunk, courtesy of YouTube user NBA.

Posted on: April 12, 2011 3:35 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 8:54 am
 

Your Tuesday morning NBA playoff scenarios

Updated playoff positioning following Monday night's games. 
Posted by Matt Moore




We've got 16 teams, and a lot of them are locked in place. Here's where we stand in terms of playoff positioning going into Tuesday night's games. 

Eastern Conference:

The East is locked. With Miami's win over the Hawks combined with Boston's loss to the Wizards, along with the Sixers loss to the Magic, we have our first round playoff match-ups.

1 Chicago vs. 8 Indiana
2 Miami vs. 7 Philadelphia
3 Boston vs. 6 New York
4 Orlando vs. 5 Atlanta

Boston lucks out in this scenario. Without a legit center and against a weak rebounding team, their biggest concerns are mitigated, and it could allow them time to get back on their feet. Shutting down explosive stars is their business. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is the exact kind of team Miami could overlook. While the Sixers are outmatched at nearly every position outside point guard (even lacking a superior center). The Magic knew they were headed for the Hawks for weeks, same with Chicago and Indiana. 

New York landing as the six is considerably higher than many thought they would in the preseason. Philadelphia has to be unnerved they surrendered the sixth spot, but given their beginning, it's still a win. 

A likely Easteron Conference semi-finals series between Boston and Miami would begin with Game 1 in the great state of Florida. 

Western Conference: 

Things are much more liquid in the Western Conference. Denver's win over Golden State secures Denver in the fifth seed. The Spurs locked up the No. 1 seed a week ago. Other than that, everything's up in the air. Dallas' win over Houston after L.A.'s loss to the Thunder Sunday puts the 2 seed back in play. The Mavericks are now a half-game ahead of the Lakers for homecourt in a theoretical second round. The pressure is now on L.A. to break their five-game losing streak and close out the season to secure that seed. But then, lowering themselves to actually trying in games like this are not really the Lakers style. 

And oh, look at that, Oklahoma City is only a half game behind the Lakers. If the Lakers lose out, it's possible L.A. could wind up in the fourth spot, as crazy as that is. 

Meanwhile, as Denver is the dividing line between the insanity up-top and the looniness on the bottom, there's a continuing shuffling in spots 6-8. Portland remains in the driver's seat for the sixth seed. With the Hornets' loss to the Jazz, which was about as badly timed as it could have been, the Hornets have fallen to the 8th seed. Memphis is now in the seventh spot. The Grizzlies face the Blazers Tuesday night with the season series tied 1-1. Winner gets tiebreaker. Portland wins, they lock up the sixth. Grizzlies win, it comes down to Wednesday night's games. This situation is made trickier by not knowing how the top will look. In reality, everyone's trying to avoid the Lakers. But since L.A. could land anywhere between 2 and 4, there's no way to effectively duck them. If Portland wants to avoid the Lakers, for example, and think winning is the best way to do so, they could beat the Grizzlies, then watch Phil Jackson pull his starters against San Antonio and Sacramento. 

There's no way to tank to avoid opponents. It's a lottery at this point. Which is why so often coaches ignore such strategies at an organizational level. 

We'll update you after Tuesday's games. 
Posted on: April 5, 2011 4:08 pm
 

Elton Brand is playing through a broken hand

Elton Brand suffered a "very minor fracture" in March, has not and will not miss any time. Because he's tougher than you.
Posted by Matt Moore

Elton Brand has been one of the biggest reasons why the Sixers have found their ways back to the playoffs. Brand's numbers are up in points, rebounds, and shooting percentage.  Might want to add toughness to his resume this season. Turns out he's been playing with a broken hand. 
Following the Sixers home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 9, coach Doug Collins said that forward Elton Brand had gotten "karate chopped" on the back of his left hand and that the hand was very sore.

In subsequent games, Brand was wearing padding to protect the hand, which was noticeably swollen for a few days after. Turns out, Brand suffered a "very minor fracture," a team source said. Brand has not missed any time since the injury and shed the protective padding in the middle of a loss to Utah, just three games later.
via Elton Brand has been playing with a small fracture in his hand | Philly | 04/05/2011.

I don't know about you, but I'd miss time with a broken hand at my job. And I don't, you know, play basketball for a living. Brand has played through a broken hand, even if it was "very minor" and kept up his production.

No one saw Brand making a recovery production-wise this season. Perhaps more impressive than just ticking up in various box score areas is that Brand has managed to do so in efficient ways. His usage is down, but his production is up, and his turnovers are down. In short, Brand is doing more with less.  And apparently he's able to do it with 1.75 hands, which is pretty impressive. 
You'd think the Sixers would want to give Brand some time before the start of the playoffs, but given their approach this season, he'll probably push through. The Sixers are basically a roving band of Warriors fighting anything that gets in their way at this point. 
Posted on: April 5, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Philly's best approach versus Boston? Run

Posted by Royce Young



The Celtics have slipped quite a bit in the last couple weeks. They've gone from the top of the East to now the three-seed.

And come April 16 when the playoffs start, they may really regret that.

There are a number of things for them to be a bit anxious about, most notably the health of Shaquille O'Neal, but setting themselves up for a first-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers is surely worrying Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge.

They lock up again tonight, but so far this season, while the Celtics are 2-1 against the pesky Sixers, the three games have been decided by a total of just eight points.

Why do the Celtics have such issue with the young 76ers? To me, it's simple: The Sixers can play any game the Celtics want.

What makes the Sixers so dangerous is that they're absolutely capable of beating the Celtics at their own game. Philadelphia can slow it down and play 48 minutes of grind-it-out basketball. The Sixers can put the weight on their defense to get stops. They can beat the Celtics in a 85-83 game.

However, I can't see the Sixers beat the Celtics four times at their own game. Once, yeah. Twice? Maybe. Three times is pushing it.

Philadelphia will have to make a tactical adjustment against Boston to really press last season's Eastern champs. The 76ers have the ability to speed up the older Celtics. Much in the same way Oklahoma City really pushed the Lakers by using their athleticism, versatility and speed, the Sixers need to make the old men in green move.

The Sixers are much more athletic than the Celtics with players like Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala. And they've got to utilize that in order to push Boston. Like I said, Philadelphia is capable of playing the Celtics game, but the best approach for the Sixers if they truly want to challenge Boston it to make the Celtics adjust to them.

Philly doesn't play especially fast at a pace of 91.2, but that doesn't mean they can't go up tempo a bit. Finding easy baskets in the halfcourt against Boston isn't easy, so utilizing Young's versatility, Iguodala's freakish transition ability and a playmaker like Holiday is key.

What's really turned things around for the Sixers after an atrocious 3-13 start is a renewed committment to defense, but also coach Doug Collins trust of his younger guys. Collins knew Holiday had the ability to be a very good starting point guard, so he put the ball in his hands and let him go. He convinced Iguodala to settle into more of a role rather than playing the star. He started getting some production out of the awesome talents of Young. And Elton Brand has really rediscovered himself as a quality power forward.

(One thing that must be mentioned: The Sixers aren't going anywhere without Lou Williams. He provides such a punch off the bench and really gives Philly quite the second unit. He said he hopes to be ready for the playoffs and he better be if the 76ers have any dreams of actually pushing the Celtics.)

Across the board, the Sixers have the ability to match up with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Where they have struggled and will continue in the future against Boston is finding points. That's why playing a bit quicker and looking to move the ball up the floor rather than setting up in the halfcourt could help. Playing small with Brand at center, Young at power forward, Iguodala at the 3 and with Holiday and marksman Jodie Meeks really gives the Celtics a difficult matchup, especially if they want to play Shaq.

The Sixers could eliminate Shaq (though he might be eliminated because of a bum heel already) just by using their versatility. The Sixers kind of hold the cards in the matchups. But they can't beat Boston in a series playing in the halfcourt.

I get the feeling the Sixers have Boston's full attention and it would probably be in the Celtics best interest to go ahead and move up to the two-seed and avoid the young 76ers altogether.
Posted on: April 4, 2011 9:31 am
Edited on: April 4, 2011 12:37 pm
 

Lou Williams out with hamstring, Daniels signed

Posted by Royce Young

Lou Williams suffered a strained right hamstring Saturday against Milwaukee and as a result will miss the rest of the regular season for Philadelphia. He said he hopes to be back for the playoffs.

That's not good for the 76ers.

Williams has quietly been a huge part of their really solid bench, providing stablility and scoring. Without him, Philadelphia is losing almost 14 points per game and a player that can spark the Sixers when things aren't going well.

So what have they done to try and make up for it? According to ESPN.com, veteran Antonio Daniels is getting a call-up from the D-League. Daniels has been trying to make a comeback through the D-League and just finished up a solid regular season in which he helped lead the expansion Texas Legends to the playoffs.

But here's the interesting part about all this: What does this say about Evan Turner? Now of course technically Turner is a shooting guard and Williams a point. So Daniels is being signed to a 10-day because of the need for point guard depth. But Turner's season has been really inconsistent, and here's a chance for him to step in and show some versatility. Instead, he'll likely see a shot at extra minutes go to a veteran D-Leaguer. Ouch.

Williams actually called Turner to "get his mind right"
about filling in those extra minutes, so it's likely Daniels is just an insurance policy. Because it's time for Turner to step in and fill those big minutes. The Sixers haven't seen the development of Turner they'd like, but here's a chance for some extended minutes.

The Sixers are in pretty good shape to seal up the six-seed and just officially wrapped up a surprising playoff berth. But if they want to make a little noise in the playoffs, they need Williams. He's a Sixth Man award honorable mention type of player because of his scoring, shooting and creating off the bench.
Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:54 am
Edited on: April 2, 2011 3:49 am
 

Sixers clinch playoff spot, Pistons eliminated

Sixers clinch playoff spot as Detroit is eliminated. But why isn't Evan Turner playing?
Posted by Matt Moore




They were supposed to be an afterthought. Many, including this here blogger, thought it was time for a proper blowup. How far could they go with a broken down Elton Brand, a regressing Thaddeus Young, an inexperienced point guard in Jrue Holiday, and the ultimate jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none Andre Iguodala who had been on the trade block for what felt like a decade? 

Turns out pretty far.  As in, the playoffs. 

From the Philadelphia Inquirer's Deep Sixer blog: 
With tonight’s 115-90 win over the New Jersey Nets, the Sixers have clinched a playoff berth with exactly six games remaining in the NBA’s regular season schedule. Considering the Sixers are multiple games ahead of the New York Knicks and multiple games behind the Atlanta Hawks, it’s safe to assume they’ll end up with the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. Their opponent, likely either the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics, is yet to be determined.

Part of the interesting part of this game was the reaction from the Sixers. There wasn’t much celebration, which is a good sign. And there was much talk about ending this regular season quite well, something the 2008-09 team did not do.

“I think the biggest thing is for Elton and myself to really stay on the guys as far as having a purpose every night,” said swingman Andre Iguodala. “We got there, but we still have a purpose. We still have to go out there and play hard.”
via Deep Sixer: Inquirer Sports.

The Sixers are in, Detroit is out. The Pistons were eliminated with the Pacers win over Milwaukee (which pretty much, but not officially sunk the Bucks as well). The Pistons never got it together this season, despite some promising young players, mostly because their older players undermined their coach, who also did a pretty terrible job. The roster needs a major overhaul, and fast. The entire team needs a new coach, a new identity, and a new emphasis on the young core they have. Oh, and a new owner. That'd be good, too. 

Back to the Sixers, Philadelphia is as playing as well right now as any team outside of the elite teams in either conference. While Boston is their likely opponent, and will likely dispatch them post-haste, the Sixers do have some matchups they can throw at either Boston, Chicago, or Miami. Perhaps most importantly, the Sixers are getting even contributions from multiple sets of players, from the bench, from the bigs, from the guards, and the wings. The team believes in itself, and that can be a scary thing to try and overcome for a favorite in the first round. Throw in some Coach of the Year quality work from Doug Collins, and the Sixers haven't just assured they'll be in the dance, they're goin to be a tough out. 

Lost in all this is the fact that Evan Turner yet again did not play Friday night. Turner has been DNP-CD'd multiple times down the stretch, in favor of... Andres Nocioni. Doug Collins is the guy who turned this team around and got them into the playoffs, so you have to extend a modicum of respect for his decisions which have gotten them this far. But the absence of the Sixers' second overall pick remains a curious question mark for the team going forward. 

The Sixers are very near a mathematical certainty to play as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. For more on the playoff picture, check out Royce Young's comprehensive look
Posted on: April 1, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2011 1:18 am
 

Two weeks to go, the playoff picture is clearing

Posted by Royce Young



It's April. That's not an April Fools joke. It really is April.

That means mid-way through this month, about half the league will be done playing. And the other half's season will just be starting.

The NBA playoff picture is kind of like one of those 3D images where you have to cross your eyes to see it. It's all coming together, it's all becoming much more clear. We've almost zeroed in on the 16 teams that will be standing come April 16, but the back ends of the East and West still need some settling.

The most contested races right now are the crawl to eighth and the fight for second in the East and the battle for second and eighth in the West. But, really, nothing is all that certain. Let's try and clear this fuzzy playoff picture.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Battle for the top: Chicago (55-20), Miami (53-22, 2.5 back of CHI), Boston (52-23, 3.0 back of CHI)

It's a three-team race for the top spot in the East, with the Bulls appearing to have a pretty good grip on the situation. The Celtics have been slipping after appearing to have quite the handle on things. Then they traded Kendrick Perkins, everyone cried and things started to go bad.

Of course the Heat are lingering and a favorable schedule, they could realistically win out. That could very well slide them into at least the two spot and maybe push the Bulls for the top. Wouldn't that be something.

But it really looks like this is Chicago's conference to lose. The Celtics being three back is a pretty big gap to close and even with the Heat's nice schedule to close, the Bulls are just playing too good right now. They'll likely finish the way they stand now with it going Chicago, Miami, then Boston, which of course would mean the Heat would play New York in the opening round. That'll be fun.

Looking locked in: Orlando (47-28), Atlanta (44-32, 4.0 back of ORL)

There is a chance that Atlanta catches Orlando for the four-seed. It's about as likely as Robert Tractor Traylor staging an NBA comeback, but it's possible. The Magic currently hold a four-game lead over the Hawks, but Orlando's schedule of seven games is pretty easy to close.

The Hawks are finally playing some decent basketball and their 85-82 win over the Magic and a big 88-83 win over the Celtics Friday will be big confidence boosters leading in to an opening round series with Orlando. It looks like Atlanta will concede home court to the Magic, though. Everyone remembers the absolute destruction of the Hawks by Orlando in the opening round last season, and it didn't matter if those games were played on the moon, the Hawks weren't winning. Maybe things will be different this year, but I think we can be pretty sure this is the 4-5 matchup in the East.

Light jockeying: Philadelphia (34-36), New York (37-38, 2.5 back of PHI)


It's funny to look back at things people like me were writing after the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony. I actually questioned if the Knicks were contenders this year. We were all wondering if the Knicks could move up from six to maybe five and maybe even four. Now they're holding on to seventh with an outside chance to get to six.

I suppose there is even a chance the Knicks could go the other direction too. And, realistically speaking, they could still fall out of the playoffs entirely as they're only up 4.5 games on the Bobcats with seven to play. An unlikely fall, but certainly possible, especially with this erratic bunch. I think if you gave the Knicks another month they'd definitely be a candidate to drop out -- or maybe even rise some. Really, this group is hard to figure.

Philadelphia holds a two-game lead over the Knicks for sixth and with the way the two teams are playing, it looks pretty certain that that's the way they'll finish. They play each other one more time next week, so that game could be the decider.

The ugly dog contest: Indiana (35-42), Charlotte (32-43, 2.0 back of IND), Milwaukee (30-45, 4.0 back of IND)

This is where these three teams have to stop and ask themselves a very important question -- What's better for us: A first-round playoff exit and the money we make from two extra sold out home games, or a lottery pick and chance at good player?

Let's look at the three:

Indiana: It's definitely in their best interest to go ahead and get to the playoffs. For one, they've held the eighth spot for a large portion of the second half of the season, so falling out would feel kind of like a choke of some kind. Not really because when you're eight games under .500, you sort of choked the entire season anyway and just had the good fortune of playing in the East.

But they've built some decent momentum the last two months under interim coach Frank Vogel. And, behind the improvement of Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert plus some good players like Danny Granger and Darren Collison, the Pacers could win a game. Making the playoffs would serve them better than getting another young player to develop. They already have enough Paul George's.

Charlotte: They should tank away. They've won four straight and are just a game back, but they tried to mail in this season at the deadline when they gave away Gerald Wallace for very little. The Bobcats need more young talent and need to start building. A playoff berth really does them very little.

Milwaukee:
It doesn't matter. The Bucks already have been one of the season's bigger disappointments, so if they made the playoffs at least they'd have that to feel better about. Then again, they're going nowhere and could always use that higher pick to try and snag an offensive player.

The Bobcats probably have the toughest schedule which hurt them Friday losing to Orlando and the Pacers picked up a big one-point win over Milwaukee as well. It sort of feels like Charlotte is headed for the berth for some reason even though the Pacers definitely want it the worst. And Friday night's results go a long way toward helping Indiana's bid. Whatever the case, this whole thing is pretty ridiculous.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

The unexpected race for No. 1: San Antonio (57-19), Los Angeles (55-20, 2.5 back of SA)

Three weeks ago, the top spot in the West appeared to be a foregone conclusion. The Spurs were easily the best team in basketball -- record wise -- and were going to cruise to the No. 1 seed by six or seven games.

Then Tim Duncan got hurt. And then the Spurs dropped six in a row while the Lakers were running off nine straight. Then the gap closed to just 1.5 games with two weeks to play and both teams headed in different directions. Suddenly the Lakers actually had control of their own destiny to win the West.

Thing is, the Spurs aren't going to panic. They aren't going to worry about losing that lead. And if they do, they can live with it. That roster is too veteran, too mature and with Gregg Popovich, there's no anxiety there. Besides, I don't think they really care all that much about the difference between one and two, other than having that home court advantage over the Lakers.

The Lakers and Spurs do play one last time on April 12, so that game could be one to watch. But in all likelihood, the Spurs will regroup and finish up just strong enough to lock up the top seed.

The right to play L.A. in the second round -- or maybe the Spurs: Dallas (53-22), Oklahoma City (50-25, 3.0 of DAL)

The Mavericks are really in an interesting place. Technically they're just 1.5 back of the Lakers for second, but after Thursday's beatdown and the fact L.A. is the hottest team in the league, it feels like that race is over.

And now Dallas has to look over its shoulder just a bit at the Thunder who have been storming (see what I did there?) the past month (14-2 in March). The gap is 2.5 which is pretty big with only seven games left and most of the games on the road for OKC, it'll be difficult to catch Dallas.

Probably better for the Thunder too seeing as I think they'd prefer to have San Antonio in the second round instead of the Lakers. (Ironically if the Spurs keep losing, they might have to get to three. This is so confusing.)

OKC matches up much better with both since the Kendrick Perkins trade, but the Thunder has a better chance versus the Spurs to advance. Dallas is probably thinking the same thing though, especially after Thursday.

Locked in, sort of: Denver (46-29)

The Nuggets have been just outstanding the last month. Think about the mood after they dealt Carmelo Anthony. Most felt like an extra playoff spot had opened up in the West because it was a sure thing Denver would drop out.

Instead, they went up.

And if it weren't for the Thunder playing such fantastic basketball, the Nuggets would be pushing hard for the Northwest Division title and four-seed. But it doesn't look like they'll catch OKC who have a five-game lead. The Nuggets and Thunder do still play twice though and with the series at 1-1 this season, Denver could take the tiebreaker.

It's unlikely Denver would drop behind New Orleans (3.0 back) or Portland (2.5 back), but the Nuggets can't just coast into the five-seed. They appear to match up pretty well with OKC and would likely rather have the five-seed over six versus the Mavericks or seven versus the Lakers.

A real derby: Portland (44-32), New Orleans (43-33 (1.0 back of POR), Memphis (43-33, 1.0 back of POR), Houston (40-36, 3.0 back of MEM and NOLA)

After a very important Friday, the Blazers moved to sixth, the Hornets dropped to seven where they're tied with Memphis. The Rockets picked up a major win against San Antonio to stay three back of the eight spot.

Obviously the Hornets have an uphill battle to fight sans David West. Losing their best scorer is a major, major blow and one that will likely drop them down. Then again, so far without West the Hornets are 2-2 with a big win over Portland Wednesday. There was a bit of worry New Orleans could lose its playoff spot, but three games is a lot for Houston to make up in two weeks (though they do play one more time).

Portland really seems like the team set to get the six-seed. They have the most remaining healthy talent (that's a funny thing to say), are playing really well and don't have a killer schedule to finish. With a nice 99-91 win over the Thunder Friday, Portland finally reclaimed that six-seed and I don't see them losing it from here on out.

Memphis has a chance to either make up serious ground or lock themselves into eighth. The Grizzlies beat the Hornets Friday to knot things up and have one more New Orleans and one against Portland remaining.

And then Houston. I'm keeping them in the mix but a three-game deficit in six games is a lot to make up. The Rockets made their bed in November with their awful start.

Here's how I see this playing out: Portland is getting the six. They're too good, don't have a challenging schedule and have a lot of incentive to get the six because they match up well with Dallas. New Orleans, is falling. The Hornets are going to lose both games to Memphis and drop to eighth. Which is probably a blessing in disguise because they match up much better without West against the Spurs than they do against the Lakers.

And the Grizzlies will settle in at seven, playing the Lakers who they actually match decently against with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol inside. Give Memphis Rudy Gay for this series and I honestly see it going seven.

Right now, 20 teams are still in the playoff mix. In two weeks, it'll be down to 16. Sad that maybe the best race is between three teams a combined 30 games under .500. Such is life in the bottom half of the East.
Posted on: March 25, 2011 11:43 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 11:44 pm
 

Wade goes to work in Heat win over Sixers

Dwyane Wade puts in incredible performance to finish off Sixers, spelling bad news for Philly should they meet in the playoffs. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Now that is the Dwyane Wade we've grown to know and love/fear. 

Against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat struggled for most of the game, trading leads and runs as they once again didn't seem to get it together. But against what could be their first round playoff opponent (Miami is just a half game back of the second seed after Boston's embarrassing loss to the Bobcats Friday night), the Heat did something they've struggled with all year: closed hard on a team above .500. And at the heat of it all was Wade. 

Wade showed the kind of explosion on both ends and fearless aggression at the rim that's been missing for much of the season. Wade took over down the stretch, gambling on passes and turning them into transition buckets and fouls.  The gear No. 3 showed tonight is what he needs to maintain the Heat's ability to make long pulls. It will naturally increase the questions as to who the real leader on the Heat is, despite LeBron James' 32-point, 10-rebound performance. Only the Heat could have a player drop 32-points, 10-rebounds, and face significant questions, but that's where we're at. 

In fact, the Triad was the best part of the Heat's performance. Non-Big-3 players only contributed 20 points and 18 rebounds, while James, Wade, and Chris Bosh combined for 91 (!) points and 31 rebounds. That's the kind of production expected as the season started, and yet the Heat were down with eight minutes to go. That's pretty much the Heat this season. 

Did we mention Wade finished with 5 blocks? Because Wade finished with 5 blocks. That's the first time since Shaquille O'Neal in 2001 that a player has finished with more than 35 points, and at least 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 blocks.  It was a historic performance from Wade, made all the more impressive in the way he turned those blocks and rebounds into fastbreak opportunities. Wade initiated the offense, focused and finished. Instead of trying to force himself into more situations deferring to James and Bosh, Wade became aggressive. Simplifying the process had huge results and should serve as model for the Heat, just as it did against the Lakers weeks ago.

The Sixers failed to assert themselves at the Heat's two weakest positions. Jrue Holiday finished with 13 points and just six assists, while Elton Brand was 4-10 for eight points and eight rebounds. If you don't produce in the paint or with your point guard, you're not going to topple the Heat most times.  Should the Sixer and Heat meet in the playoffs as is infinitely possible that they could, coach Doug Collins is going to have to get better work on the glass and figure out some way to slow down Dwyane Wade. For all the criticism the Heat have suffered through this season, a run like this from Wade could change everything. Tonight was a simple reminder. 

He's still Dwyane Wade. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com