London can't save Sixers from another huge blown lead

London can't save Sixers from another huge blown lead


The Sixers' showcase in London was spoiled by a massive Celtics comeback Thursday at the 02 Arena, resulting in a 114-103 loss.

Playing on the international stage, the Sixers jumped out to a 22-point lead in the first half against the top team in the Eastern Conference. 

That lopsided differential wouldn’t last long. The Celtics began to claw their way back into it in the second quarter and trailed by only nine at halftime.

The Sixers fell behind in the third and were outscored by 15 points in the quarter. The Celtics built upon that lead in the fourth to erase any signs of the Sixers' once-dominating advantage (see story)

The Sixers' four-game winning streak came to an end. They fell back below .500 at 19-20. The Celtics improved to 34-10.

• A 15-point game turned chippy with just under five minutes to play. Ben Simmons committed a hard foul on Marcus Morris, who got knocked to the ground. Morris bounced up and shoved Simmons. The players were separated and the situation didn’t escalate beyond the push. Morris was issued a technical without any ejections. 

• JJ Redick was nearly unstoppable to start the game. He scored 13 quick points in the first (in less than eight minutes, at that). His efficient shooting accounted for nearly half of the Sixers’ total scoring in the quarter. Redick finished with a game-high 22 points.

• Joel Embiid had a quiet 15-point, 10-rebound double-double (along with five assists). Embiid shot 6 for 17 from the field and struggled from three, going 1 for 5. (Both Robert Covington and Dario Saric also went 1 for 5 from long range.)

• Simmons posted 16 points but was well under his season averages with three assists and only two rebounds. 

• Jaylen Brown (21 points, four rebounds, three steals) edged out Kyrie Irving (20 points, seven assists) as the Celtics’ leading scorer. Boston got a boost off the bench with 19 points from Morris. 

• The Sixers committed only two turnovers in a disciplined first quarter. But as the game went on, they ended up with 19 overall.

• Injury updates: Markelle Fultz was with the Sixers in London but has not been cleared to play (right shoulder). Amir Johnson was sidelined by gastroenteritis. 

• The Sixers dropped to 0-3 against the Celtics this season. They will get another chance to pick up a regular-season win when they face off again next Thursday in Boston.

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

AP Images/ USA Today Images

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

Brett Brown sat at the podium with a puzzled look on his face as he stared at the box score.

Sure, he’d likely already been told that the Sixers had a season-high 27 turnovers in their 106-102 Game 4 win over the Miami Heat. But it’s one thing to hear it from someone else and another to see it written down in black and white.

“The fact that you can actually win a playoff game with this volume of turnovers is mind-boggling,” Brown said.

The Sixers’ level of carelessness on Saturday was equally astonishing.

For three quarters, the Sixers resembled the regular-season version of the team we have become accustomed to seeing over the years under Brown. They had the ball stolen on dribble moves and their passes intercepted. They had passes sail out of bounds and committed offensive fouls.

Simply put, the Sixers were tripping over themselves to give the ball back to the Heat.

“The first three periods, I was shocked to look up at the scoreboard and not feel like you’re just down 15, 14, 18 given the way the game went,” Brown said.

“I’m shocked that we won this game. We really didn’t have a right to win this game. I thought that, defensively, in the first three periods, we were a C-minus. I thought that our turnovers were an F.”

While a lot of that had to do with the Sixers’ own sloppiness, the Heat’s level of desperation was certainly a factor.

“Coming into this game this afternoon, you know you’re going to get the Miami Heat’s best,” Brown said. “It’s a culture of winning. They’ve won championships. Spo’s (Erik Spoelstra) a hell of a coach. You knew they were going to be all wound up. Like I said before, you didn’t have to be a mystic to guess what this was going to look like. 

“And they jumped us and we didn’t handle it well. We had multiple turnovers. I thought in Game 3 we responded to the physicality with only 12 and we did some things fundamentally more correct. There were several times in tonight’s game that they got the better of us and this environment got the better of us a little bit.”

Not when it mattered most.

The Sixers committed just three of those 27 turnovers in the fourth quarter as they dominated another final period to finish off the comeback.

And while the Sixers know they will never reach their playoff goals if they continue giving the ball away at such a rapid rate, they were pleased the team could stop the bleeding in crunch time with the game on the line.

“I think we did a great job of coming back, staying poised and playing as a team,” Ben Simmons said. “Going through our structured plays, whatever it is, defensively and offensively.” 

“I feel that we have been trending in a way that the fourth-period execution, the fourth-period mentality — defensively driven — has been our identity,” Brown said. “Then you go to the other side and say, well, we did a pretty good job of not turning the ball over. Three turnovers, by our standards, is an A-plus.”

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

MIAMI — For the 13 first rounds Dwyane Wade has played in, the current Sixers-Heat matchup has made a strong impression.

“They’re good,” Wade said. “They’re special. They’re a good group. They put the right team together.”

Sitting at the podium, Wade spent a good amount of time during his press conference praising the team that has put the Heat on the brink of elimination. He’s been on the winning side often, including three championships, so he recognizes a unique team when he sees it. 

“This definitely is one of the best first-round series I’ve ever played in, first-round opponent,” Wade said.

The Sixers have gone up 3-1 on the Heat with a roster that is balanced both positionally and in experience. Seven players finished in double digits Saturday and only veteran JJ Redick had more than 20 points. Ben Simmons, with whom Wade already has a relationship (see story), recorded his first career playoff triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). He became the youngest player to do so since Wade’s former teammate LeBron James back in 2006. 

"I give a lot of credit to their point guard, their leader, Ben,” Wade said. “He does a great job of getting them settled, getting the ball to his guys, and keep feeding confidence to them.”

Wade described the Sixers as having “an edge.” They will use it to test the Heat Tuesday when the series returns to Philadelphia. Wade encourages his teammates to play with maturity and withstand the Sixers’ runs. The Heat split the first two games at the Wells Fargo Center. 

“They’re going to play with pace, play with speed, play physical,” Wade said. “Obviously they’re going to play with their crowd. It’s going to be a high energy type of game from them … All we’ve got to do is just worry about this one game and giving everything we have for that game. You walk out of that game, you gave everything you had, you can live with whatever result is there at the end.”

Wade, 36, has had vintage moments against the Sixers in this series. He led all players with 28 points off the bench in the Heat’s Game 2 win. On Sunday, he scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter alone. 

Asked about the possibility of this game against the Sixers being his last game in Miami playing for the Heat, Wade said, “I won’t answer that right now. I’ve got another game to play. I’m focused on the next game and trying to win that one.”

What he will answer is questions about his competition. 

"They’re a very good team," Wade said. "I can’t say nothing negative about them at all. So far they’ve been great opponents.”