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NBA Playoffs: Heat close out Sixers in Game 5

Apr 27, 2011, 10:26 PM EDT

Dwyane Wade, Game 5 Getty Images

The Miami Heat had a tougher time than expected with a young, well-coached Sixers team for four of the five games in their now concluded first round playoff series. Yes, Miami closed out Philadelphia in Game 5 on Wednesday 97-91, but it was anything but easy.

The Sixers really had it dialed in defensively against Miami for most of the series, limiting easy baskets and forcing the team’s stars into either contested shots in traffic, or long jumpers outside. Game 5 was no different, as the Heat’s top three players combined to shoot just 22 of 54 from the field, with Dwyane Wade being responsible for the majority of that with his 10 for 25 performance.

Philadelphia got big games from Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand (22 points each), and the customary solid bench production from Thaddeus Young, who played the entire fourth quarter and hit all four of his shots in the period. And, they had their chances late, cutting a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to just one, which forced Miami to execute in crunch time to send the Sixers home for the summer.

Philly has gotten a ton of credit for the way they competed in this series, in much the same way that the Pacers impressed with their ability to push the top-seeded Bulls. That’s fine, and the praise is well-deserved. But perhaps what hasn’t been made too much of is the way Miami struggled to score for stretches in this series, including going the final 5:12 of this one without a field goal, before Wade broke away for a celebratory dunk as time expired.

The Heat were able to seal the victory, but it came on shaky terms: Wade picked up a technical foul when his team led by just two with 51 seconds to play, and Miami needed two clutch free throws from Joel Anthony of all people (a 64.4 percent free throw shooter in the regular season who is known only, and I mean only for his defensive abilities) with 16.8 seconds left as part of its close-out effort.

It’s possible that getting the crunch time playoff experience in the first round against a weaker opponent will benefit the Heat in the later rounds, and maybe the Game 4 collapse — where the Sixers closed it on a 10-0 run to erase Miami’s lead and delay elimination — will serve as a similar lesson learned.

We’ll find out beginning Sunday, when the Heat will open their second round series against a veteran Celtics team that has been to the Finals two out of the last three seasons, and knows how to get it done this time of year. Sure, the Sixers pushed the Heat at times. But the Celtics are likely to shove.

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  1. Scott - Apr 27, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    It certainly nice how you write provocatively looking for more people to say, “Yeah, those Heat really struggled against the spunky Sixers” but the truth is this series was never, not for one second, in doubt. Should the Celts give the Heat a tougher series? Sure, but honestly, the Heat/Celts series will probably look pretty close to how thw Sixers series looked. You might say different, to get more hits, but you know its the truth.

    • aqzi - Apr 28, 2011 at 12:50 AM

      How will the Heat Celtics series be similar to the Sixers Heat series? The talent gap between the Sixers and the Celtics is undeniable, as evidenced by their end-of-season records. Not to mention the fact that the C’s have made the finals twice in the past three seasons…

      • purdueman - Apr 28, 2011 at 7:51 AM

        There is at least one similarity. The 76’ers had Elton Brand and his cane while Boston has Shaq and his wheelchair!

    • savocabol1 - Apr 28, 2011 at 8:20 AM

      Thanks for making me spit my coffee out all over my computer from me dying of laughter after reading ths post. For a second there I thought you were serious when you claim the Celtics are similiar in talent to the 76ers.

  2. 305phinphan - Apr 28, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    Bring it Boston! I can’t wait to see Paul Pierce flop all over the floor and cry like a little girl. The ONLY two players I have respect for on the Celtics are Ray Allen & Rondo. The rest of them are ignorant just like all of the Celtic fans. I can’t wait for Miami to knock those losers out of the playoffs and add another year to those declining “superstars” age.

    • andyhr17 - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:36 AM

      How about ignorant like a good amount of Heat fans who just became Heat fans back in June for some odd reason?

      • purdueman - Apr 28, 2011 at 7:58 AM

        Ya… it’s almost as bad as all of the Chicago north shore night creatures who suddenly crawled out of the woodwork proclaiming to be “lifelong Cub fans” when it looked as if the Cubs would make it to their first World Series in 2003 since their last appearance in one in 1945. Thank God that Steve Bartman though spared us all from that!

      • thestudiokida - Apr 28, 2011 at 10:22 AM

        I became a Heat fan in June. So what? I like watching great players and LeBron is the best right now. I live in Charlotte but do you honestly think I should be a “true fan” and waste my life watching their sorry asses? I think not.

    • mornelithe - Apr 28, 2011 at 11:16 AM

      If the Heat play as poorly as they did in the Sixers series, against the Celtics, Pierce won’t need to flop. They’ll walk all over the Heat. They’ve had a ton of time to gel together as a team, but they still have problems at times. Even last night wasn’t a certain victory until the final what minute?

      They definitely have the talent on hand though, don’t get me wrong. It may just be too soon for the team. Regardless of what happens in the next round, the Heat are going to be beastly next year.

  3. purdueman - Apr 28, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    BFD,,, the Heat eliminating the hapless 76’ers is no different than the Indians taking Custer out. Big whoop!

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