The Philadelphia 76ers have been able to give the Miami Heat a fight over the years. The Sixers often have the gas to give the Heat a scare for a half or even three quarters, yet are unable to actually close the deal. That was the case again on March 8, despite how the Sixers weren’t even supposed to threaten the Heat for one quarter.
It took three quarters before Miami finally pulled away for a 102-93 win to extend its winning streak to 17. The fact that Philadelphia hung in there for 36 minutes was a big win in of itself, given the vastly different fortunes of these two teams in the last month. Nevertheless, things could have gone so much better for the Sixers.
Philadelphia had a stunning second quarter to take the lead, extending it to as many as nine points in the third. The Sixers were efficient from the floor and were deadly from beyond the arc, showing flashes of their old selves from a year or two ago. But even those Philadelphia squads never had the tools to stand up to Miami for 48 minutes.
It was inevitable that the Sixers would go cold, which meant it was only a matter of time before the Heat made a run. Once LeBron James hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Heat the lead after three quarters, the rout was on from there. Without even needing James or Dwayne Wade in the final minutes, Miami pulled away like it usually has over Philadelphia and the entire NBA in general.
Now that real victories and a real shot at the playoffs are out of the question these days, moral victories are the Sixers’ most attainable goals. This was as big a moral victory as Philadelphia could get, since Miami should have logically won by 20 or 30 points or more.
However, since the Heat needed a last-second James shot to hold off the lowly Orlando Magic on March 6, perhaps they are starting to inch back down to Earth. That could bode well for the Sixers when the Heat drop by Philadelphia on March 13.
By then, Miami may have the chance to extend its streak to 20 games, which would make any moral victory – or actual win if that’s even possible – even bigger.