The NBA playoffs are a game of adjustments.
After two games of getting burned by Chris Bosh and LeBron James, Philadelphia coach Doug Collins turned up the defensive pressure by bringing more help over to the strong side (where the ball is) faster. The 76ers tried hard to stop whichever of Miami’s triad had the ball, to force jumpers and missed shots. (It didn’t help much, Miami still shot a respectable 45.6 percent.)
But that strong side emphasis left room for weak-side Heat players to sneak in for offensive rebounds — Miami had 20 of them. Think about it this way: on 46.5 percent of Miami’s missed shots they got the offensive rebound. Sometimes that was a dramatic Dwyane Wade slam. Another time at the end of the game it was the death of the chance for Philadelphia to make a comeback. But the Heat kept getting those boards.
In the end, that was the game, which ended in 100-94 Miami victory. It was also the series, with the Heat holding a commanding 3-0 lead. Philadelphia may win Game 4 in a show of pride, but pretty much everyone in Miami can start thinking about Boston. (Sorry New York.)
For Miami, it was just another game where their talent proved too much for the 76ers. After the other two of the triad were the stars of the first two games, it was Wade’s turn for Miami in this one, as he had 18 first-half points — many with an incredible degree of difficulty — to keep Miami close to an emotionally charged Sixers team. Wade finished with 32 on just 19 shots. Miami got the ball to Wade by having him work off the ball and pop out into places where he could do damage, a good adjustment by the Heat’s Erik Spoelstra.
The 76ers played well. They played with emotion. Elton Brand was knocking down the mid-range shot like he was still with the Clippers, a lot of people that didn’t realize how good Jrue Holiday was before this series started now know, and Lou Williams is still giving it everything he can with a bad wheel. Even Spencer Hawes had probably his best game of the series. The Sixers gave full effort on defense and led at the half because they got the transition points they needed.
But in the end, Miami was stronger rebounding and that was the difference. The offensive rebounds Miami got shut off the transition points Philly needed.
And at the end of the day, the Heat are just more talented. The Sixers got a bad matchup and this is the result. Game 4 is Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, but Easter may well be the last time we see Philadelphia this season.