Can Miami turn around fortunes tonight?
Miami must pressure and take back momentum
PHILADELPHIA — The flip side of getting blown out in the opening game of an NBA playoff series is it creates the full menu of potential remedies.
So all the Miami Heat believe they need to do to offset Saturday’s 130-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers is to enter tonight’s Game 2 at Wells Fargo Center prepared to play stronger, harder, faster, better and, oh, smarter.
“We have to get into that dogfight a little bit more,” forward Josh Richardson said after Sunday’s practice at Temple University, “but we still have to use our brains better.” And their brawn. “They won the rebounding battle, they won the turnover battle and sometimes it can be as simple as those things,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, emphasizing attitude as much as aptitude, going as far as to reference the need to control “the line of scrimmage.”
The lasting images of Game 1 are of J.J. Redick, Marco Belinelli, Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova celebrating the 76ers’ 18 3-pointers.
“We have to get into that dogfight a little bit more, but we still have to use our brains better.” Josh Richardson
But when Spoelstra crunched his numbers, he found an alternate reality.
“Everybody remembers the tough catch-and-shoot jumpers that Redick and Belinelli and even Ilyasova, to some extent, were making,” Spoelstra said. “We have to try to do better with those.
“But the easy baskets, they also got, and those are the back-breakers, off of cuts, off of rip screens, cross screens, and the offensive rebounding. Basically 20 points off of that, 17 or 18 on cuts, and add another 20 plus off turnovers. It’s tough to overcome all of that.”
Essentially, even at this infancy of this best-of-seven opening-round series, Spoelstra said it is time to make a stand.
“The things we do well,” he said, “they have to feel those things more, just as we felt what Philly does well with their movement, their catch-and-shoot players. We felt every bit of what they do.”
But Spoelstra also cautioned about the perceived weight of the moment.
“We’re not happy about the game, nor should we be, none of us, players or staff,” he said of the series opener. “But that’s one loss. We crawl out of this sitting with a one-point win and it’s all the same.”
Guard Goran Dragic said Saturday’s second-half collapse was a microcosm of the game, the inability to sustain even on a possession-by-possession basis.
“We need to run action with purpose, not just to have one pick-and-roll and then the ball stops,” he said. “We need to play both ways a little bit smarter.” The video was telling. “We were letting them dictate everywhere they wanted to go,” Richardson said.
That, Dwyane Wade said, makes it about more than schematics.
“When you lose, you can pinpoint a lot of things,” Wade said. “Everything goes wrong when you lose a ballgame. I think ultimately we’ve just got to play with more force. I felt we all felt we kind of were laying back a little bit.
“We’ve just got to pick up our pressure, pickup our intensity. If they’re going to make those kind of shots, let’s have them make it with us being a little more aggressive. They got everything they wanted without us being aggressive.”
For the Heat, Saturday was almost an awakening to what the 76ers have been in the injury absence of center Joel Embiid, with Wade speaking as if the Heat had somehow fallen into a series against the Warriors.
“They’re not going to just let you stop them from doing one thing,” he said. “That’s what makes them a different group. That’s what made Golden State great for all these years, they had other things to go to when people were just worried about the three. Their ability to back cut, have multiple screens, bring different things to the game, it’s what makes them very good.
“But, ultimately, they’re beatable, just like every other team. We just have to figure it out. We had one game to try it. It didn’t work. Now we’ve got another game to try it on their home floor and we’ll see how that works.”
Philadelphia’s Marco Belinelli contributed to his team’s record number of 3-pointers in Game 1, including this one over Goran Dragic, left, and Justise Winslow, center.