Sixers observations

Sixers' rally falls short in Game 2 as Heat snap 17-game win streak

Sixers' rally falls short in Game 2 as Heat snap 17-game win streak

BOX SCORE

It’s a series.

The Heat beat the Sixers, 113-103, to even it up in Game 2 Monday. They snapped the Sixers’ 17-game win streak and handed them their first loss at the Wells Fargo Center since March 13.

The Sixers climbed within two points in the fourth, but their 16-point deficit was too much to overcome. They will play Game 3 in Miami Thursday night (7 p.m./NBCSP). 

• The three-point shooting that propelled the Sixers in Game 1 fell flat. After going 18 for 28 on Saturday, they shot just 7 for 36. Marco Belinelli (2 of 8), Robert Covington (1 of 9), JJ Redick (1 of 7) and Dario Saric (3 of 10) all struggled from long range. 

• The Sixers started Ersan Ilyasova (14 points, 11 boards) at center to create the same matchup problems that helped them come back in the third quarter of Game 1. Unlike Saturday when the Heat played Hassan Whiteside (four points, five rebounds) for only four minutes in the entire second half, the center played over eight minutes in the first quarter alone. The Heat had two days to plan for adjustments in case the Sixers went with that lineup. 

• The second quarter was rough for the Sixers. They scored 13 points in the entire quarter. Only Ben Simmons, Redick and Saric netted baskets. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade scored 15 points in that period himself (see more below). The Sixers made just four buckets, shot 19 percent from the field and 1 for 10 from three. The Heat out-rebounded the Sixers, 18-7, to take away second-chance point opportunities. 

• Wade always is capable of a vintage Wade game. It was unlikely the championship winner would have another quiet night. Wade scored a game-high 28 points (11 for 17 from the field) (see story). He's had a knack for turning it on against the Sixers. He previously dropped 15 in the fourth quarter in February. Starters Goran Dragic and James Johnson scored 20 points and 18 points, respectively.

• Saric amped up his game in the fourth. He scored 10 of his 23 points in the quarter to spark a Sixers’ comeback attempt. Simmons led the Sixers with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. 

• Markelle Fultz played less than five minutes. He went scoreless (0 for 3 from the field) and without a rebound or assist. When Simmons picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter, T.J. McConnell subbed in and Fultz did not play in the second half. McConnell drew a foul on a put-back attempt with 0.4 seconds left in the third quarter and the crowd chanted “T-J” when he went to the line. 

• Keep an eye on Justise Winslow and Simmons in this series. Things got chippy between them in the first half. Any matchup against the Heat is going to be physical. 

• The Sixers held a moment of silence in remembrance of Hall of Famer Hal Greer, who died Saturday. 

Sixers blitz Heat in 2nd half to take Game 1

Sixers blitz Heat in 2nd half to take Game 1

BOX SCORE

Welcome to the playoffs.

The Sixers beat the Heat, 130-103, Saturday night to the tune of "Trust the Process" chants echoing throughout the Wells Fargo Center. 

Their win streak now stands at 17, dating back to the regular season, as they captured Game 1 with a statement victory. 

• The Sixers came out of a four-point deficit at halftime and basically said, “We’ll take care of the third quarter, thanks.” They outscored the Heat 34-18, including a 15-0 run. Ersan Ilyasova had five points, three boards and a block during that spurt. The Sixers have been dominating third quarters as of late. They outscored their opponents 480-367 in that quarter during their 16-game winning streak and were outscored only three times. 

• The Wells Fargo Center was so loud it was hard to hear yourself think. The Sixers set the tone by having Joel Embiid ring the ceremonial pregame bell … in a mask. Yes, the Phantom of the Process still was part of Game 1. The crowd got hyped to see Allen Iverson and LeSean McCoy in attendance. Even former Sixer Nik Stauskas returned to the arena to support the Sixers. 

• Can a rookie point guard lead a team in the postseason? Ben Simmons proved it with 17 points, nine rebounds and 14 assists. He ran into foul trouble (four) and committed five turnovers, but he didn't have any in the second half, showing his discipline. Simmons, who usually keeps a calm demeanor, was showing more emotion on his face as he competed on a bigger stage. 

• The value of the buyout additions of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova is going to be immeasurable in the postseason. The Sixers' bench went from struggling to find a scorer to having two reliable options. Belinelli dropped 25 points and Ilyasova recorded a double-double by the third quarter (17 points, 14 rebounds on the night). Simmons is the first rookie to ever record that stat line in the playoffs.

• JJ Redick started off the game with a hiccup. He fell awkwardly on his left side and landed on his arm and face. Redick returned and looked unfazed, scoring a game-high 28 points and a perfect 8 for 8 from the line. He is one of the more interesting Sixers to watch in-between plays. Redick often is talking to teammates after a make or miss, frequently making hand motions to direct the next call and providing an invaluable leadership in-game. 

• This game wasn't about the bigs. Hassan Whiteside didn’t have the impact it seemed like he would have going into the series. He played just 12 minutes and scored two points with six rebounds. Backup center Bam Adebayo also had a limited role with two points with one rebound in 21 minutes. Instead, it was stretch forward Kelly Olynyk who was a pest off the bench, netting a team-high 26 points, including four threes, and seven boards. 

• The postseason version of Dario Saric competes on another level. He provides gifs for days with his post-basket reactions. In spite of still experiencing discomfort from cellulitis in his right elbow, Saric scored 20 points (4 for 6 from deep), six rebounds and three dimes. 

• Yeah, Markelle Fultz is ready for the playoffs.

• Don’t look at the box score to get the full impact of Amir Johnson’s game. The 30-year-old has an internal hustle. Those early years on the veteran-heavy Pistons have carried over in his career. 

• The Sixers continued their uptempo, three-point shooting strategy. They hit 18 of 28 from long range, a massive 64.3 percent. 

Sixers rush past Bucks into playoffs with NBA record in hand

Sixers rush past Bucks into playoffs with NBA record in hand

BOX SCORE

The regular season is over and the Sixers are heading into the playoffs as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. 

They reached 16 straight wins with a 130-95 victory, which is the longest streak by a team heading into the postseason. The Sixers finished the regular season with a 52-30 record and will face the Miami Heat in the first round (see story).

Markelle Fultz exploded off the bench for a 13-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. He came full circle in a rookie year that was hampered by injuries, clearly earning his place in the postseason rotation. 

• The Sixers were in control the whole time. They were up 46-18 at the end of the first quarter. Their massive 80-44 halftime lead was the most first-half points scored by the team since Feb. 11, 1992, against the Heat. 

• The Sixers took care of business easily with a quiet night from Ben Simmons. He shot just 1 for 6 from the field and finished with four points, six boards and seven assists. Simmons fell into foul trouble early in the game. 

• Fultz and T.J. McConnell paired up to fill in with the backcourt production. T.J. McConnell turned into “3.J.” McConnell with a pair of treys. He had not hit a three since Feb. 27. McConnell scored 16 points with six rebounds and seven assists. The Sixers leaned on the pairing as JJ Redick sat out the regular-season finale.

• Brett Brown said he was not concerned with strategically game planning in case the Sixers were matched up with the Bucks in the first round. His focus was on winning and securing the third seed.

• Dario Saric returned to the lineup after leaving Tuesday’s game because of a chipped tooth and lacerated lip. He found the rhythm he had been looking for since suffering from cellulitis in his right below. Saric scored a team-high 24 points. 

• Joel Embiid joined the Sixers on the bench, standing out in a bright orange jacket. The big man said it is “unlikely” he would be ready to play in Game 1 of the playoffs (see story)

• The usually-dominating Giannis Antetokounmpo posted just 10 points (5 for 15 from the field). He pulled down 10 rebounds. 

• Justin Anderson turned up the heat on his former college teammate Malcolm Brogdon. Anderson scored 25 points off the bench, topping Brogdon’s 13. Brogdon, who beat both Embiid and Saric last season for Rookie of the Year, was booed by Sixers fans when he touched the ball. Anderson has a way of stepping up in the regular season finale. Last season, he scored a career-high 26 points against the Knicks. 

• Eagles head coach Doug Pederson rang the ceremonial pregame bell: