The Philadelphia 76ers are not the toughest opponent the Miami Heat has faced lately. In fact, the Sixers were supposed to be blown out by the Heat after a few minutes on March 8. But although the Sixers pushed the Heat for three whole quarters, it still didn’t take much -- or even take all of Miami’s superstars at the end -- to end the threat.
LeBron James didn’t play for the last eight minutes of the game, while Dwayne Wade only racked up 35 minutes himself. Yet by the time the Heat took them out, they were on their way to pulling away from the Sixers for a 102-93 victory.
At the start, it looked like Miami would need James and Wade for a lot longer to survive Philadelphia. The Sixers opened up a surprising lead in the second quarter and had a nine-point lead five minutes into the third. After barely surviving the much worse Orlando Magic on March 6, it appeared the Heat would have to waste even more energy holding off another huge underdog.
Instead, Miami flipped the switch and put Philadelphia back down in the blink of an eye. James completed the comeback with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the third, then the Heat carried the momentum into the fourth. They opened up an eight-point lead by the time James came out with eight minutes left, then made his return unnecessary.
It is a bit sad that the Heat barely needed James and Wade to cruise past the Sixers in the end, even on a night when Philadelphia led for a good period of time. But despite being allowed to hang around for so long, it didn’t take much for the Sixers to finally lie down.
This is how it is in the Heat-Sixers dynamic, as Miami really only needs a few good minutes and spurts to put Philadelphia away. The Heat don’t even need James and Wade around for too long, since the Sixers don’t have the personnel these days to withstand their teammates for 48 minutes.
After a brief scare, Miami treated Philadelphia like it was supposed to -- as a mere warm-up act before its big showdown with the Indiana Pacers on March 10. The Sixers provided a big tease for a while, but in the end, it really didn’t take much at all for the Heat to bring them back to reality.