It looked like one team was fighting for its playoff life and trying to send off an NBA legend in grand fashion, while the other team … wasn’t.
In Dwyane Wade’s final game in Miami, the Heat beat up on the shorthanded Sixers, 122-99, at American Airlines Arena.
With Joel Embiid, JJ Redick and Mike Scott resting and the Eastern Conference’s third seed all wrapped up, this game didn’t profile well for a win. Miami went 6 of 9 from three on its way to a 34-20 first-quarter lead and the Sixers never recovered.
The loss drops them to 50-31 on the season.
Here are observations from the game:
• If you were expecting D-Wade to pull a Kobe Bryant and jack up 40 shots in his farewell, sorry for the disappointment. Wade simply played his game and was very good, scoring 30 points in 34 minutes. The 13-time All-Star looks like he could keep going, but good for the 37-year-old for hanging it up on his own terms.
• For most of the game, Ben Simmons and Boban Marjanovic looked like the only truly effective Sixers.
Simmons pushed the tempo and was looking to score on his drives. He was scoring efficiently, but wasn’t doing much in the assist department — a big ask when your team shoots below 40 percent (when Simmons was in the game) from the field. He played just 21 minutes in this one, finishing with 16 points on 7 of 12.
Marjanovic was his usual efficient self offensively, going 6 of 10 for 12 points, but also showed why playing him as Embiid’s backup in the postseason is a concern. Both Bam Adebayo and Hassan Whiteside were able to sneak behind Marjanovic for easy lobs. Both centers also hit jumpers that Marjanovic couldn’t get out to contest.
• Speaking of the backup center spot, Jonah Bolden was questionable with knee soreness coming in and played just 12 minutes before heading to the locker room for the night. There’s certainly concern there. Bolden could be a key piece for this team as Brett Brown has also used Bolden at the four recently.
• Jimmy Butler was back in the lineup after missing the last two games with back tightness. He looked predictably rusty, going 2 of 5 for four points in 15 first-half minutes. Butler is close with Wade and likely didn't want to miss this one.
Tobias Harris, who is currently on pace to play 83 games this season, was ice cold from the field, going 3 of 16 for six points. He played 20 minutes in the first half and also did not return.
Brown emptied out his bench in this one as even Haywood Highsmith got run. The rookie wing actually broke up an attempt by Wade to throw a ball off the backboard for a dunk in the fourth. I get the conext of the moment for Wade, but good for Highsmith.
• We got our first look at Zhaire Smith as a starter and our first look at Furkan Korkmaz since Feb. 12.
Smith continues to show off the traits that made him a first-round pick. He has such quick feet and decent instincts defensively. He also filled lanes well and showed a little something as a cutter. Simmons hit him on one look out of the post which drew a foul. Simmons tried a lob for the rookie a little later, but threw it too high for even the freakishly athletic Smith. He also had a nice finish over Whiteside after the veteran center blocked him earlier. That fearlessness will help if the 19-year-old gets playoff minutes. He's also been solid from three, going 4 of 11 in five games.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Korkmaz, but as was the case when he was getting regular minutes earlier this season, it was a mixed bag. You saw plenty of lapses on the defensive end, but he did make a nice read on one possession, getting into a passing lane, getting a steal and an easy bucket. His calling card is supposed to be his shot, but he’s shooting just 33 percent from three this season. He missed his only attempt from three in seven minutes.
Jonathon Simmons also got his first extended minutes in quite some time and actually looked pretty good. On the defensive end, you can see why a team once signed him to a decent NBA deal. He's struggled on offense, but put up 14 points on 5 of 9 and also dished out eight assists. It’s been a little surprising to not see Simmons get back into the mix when James Ennis got hurt. He lost “the tournament” to Ennis, but has a wealth of playoff experience.
With Ennis likely to miss multiple playoff games, someone will need to give the Sixers a couple minutes from the wing. None of the choices are ideal, but with defense being at a premium during the postseason, I'd go with Smith. He's active and can keep a guard in front of him. Let the kid play.
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