The Miami Heat has levelled its NBA playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers at 1-1.
The Miami Heat has levelled its NBA playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers at 1-1.

Sixers’ stunning comeback falls short

Ben Simmons did his best to lead a comeback, but the Philadelphia 76ers will head to Miami having giving up home court advantage.

And it was thanks to a vintage performance from Dwyane Wade.

The future Hall of Famer had a stunning first half and followed it up with clutch plays on both ends as the Heat defeated the 76ers 113-103, tying their first-round series at 1-all.

Wade finished with 28 points off the bench, shooting 11 of 17 from the field in a showing that looked more like the Dwyane Wade of old.

Simmons posted a team-high 24 points, to go with eight rebounds and eight assists, but the 76ers suffered through a cold shooting night, losing a key home game.

The 76ers shot just seven of 35 from beyond the arc, as their 17-game winning streak - one that stretched back into the regular season - came to an end.

The Heat got 20 points from Goran Dragic, as well as another impressive performance of the bench by Kelly Olynyk, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds and six assists off the pine.

It was the 76ers who picked up where they left off from game one, showing off their signature ball and player movement, with a Simmons tip giving them a 15-11 lead midway through the first quarter.

Brett Brown's team made the most of their trips to the line, with Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova leading the way as the 76ers took a 29-22 lead.

Philadelphia 76ers' Ersan Ilyasova shoots under pressure from Miami’s defence.
Philadelphia 76ers' Ersan Ilyasova shoots under pressure from Miami’s defence.

That's when Wade and the Heat made some changes.

Justise Winslow picked up on Simmons earlier up the court than usual, setting the tone for a physical brand of basketball.

 

Wade played a mixture of scorer and distributor, hitting an array of mid-range jumpers to lift the Heat's 20-2 run.

A pair of Simmons free throws put a halt to the Heat's run, but Wade continued to put his foot down, hitting a lay-up to end the second quarter.

The Heat entered the half with a 56-42 lead after Wade led the way with 21 points.

Wade shot eight of nine from the field in the first half, in the process  passing Larry Bird for 10th place on the NBA's all-time playoff scoring list (3899).

With the 76ers trailing, Brown opted to start Amir Johnson at the five-spot in the second half, and the big man immediately went to work, throwing down a dunk in traffic.

Still, the momentum was all with the Heat - Josh Richardson stepping up on both ends of the floor as his team kept their lead.

The 76er's TJ McConnell provided a burst to end the third period, hitting a pair of free throws to end the quarter, but the Heat still held a 86-75 lead.

Ben Simmons (R) drives to the basket against the Heat’s James Johnson.
Ben Simmons (R) drives to the basket against the Heat’s James Johnson.

Wayne Ellington opened the final quarter with a tough three-pointer, which was follow by a James Johnson dunk - giving the Heat a 91-75 lead, their largest of the evening.

But Dario Saric led a 10-2 run for the 76ers, highlighted by a timely three-pointer from the top of the key.

A Simmons basket, followed by a tip-in from Ersan Ilyasova, cut the 76ers' deficit to just 98-96, but it was Wade who was the hero for the Heat, forcing a steal for a dunk before finding James Johnson under the rim for a slam of his own on the next possession.

From then, it was the free-throw game to the finish line.

The Heat now gets the opportunity to gain home court advantage as they head to Miami.

Joel Embiid sat out Game 2 with a face injury.

Game 3 is on Friday, tipping off at 9am (AEST).


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