With Joel Embiid out, it looked like it was going to be an easy game for the Miami Heat. However, it wasn’t. After trailing by double-digits early on, the Philadelphia 76ers climbed back into the game. They picked up the defense and forced Miami into tough shots. The spacing for the Heat was also bad. The 76ers went into halftime with a one-point lead. Miami responded with a strong second half, leading by as many as 21 points and never looked back. The Heat ended the night with the 106-92 victory, and with the win, Miami takes a 1-0 series lead. Here are my takeaways from Miami’s win over Philadelphia on Monday.
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76ers’ Zone Defense
Miami executed their offense very well to start the game. They drove to the basket with force and kicked it out to the open man. The Heat were getting anything they wanted in the half-court offense. Then, the 76ers went to their zone defense and things changed. They forced Miami into tough jumpers. The Heat’s spacing in the half-court was not good, either. The team went away from looking at Bam Adebayo on the roll. It’s ironic that the Philadelphia’s zone worked against Miami, considering that has been their go-to defense against the 76ers in the past. Miami made better adjustments in the second half against the zone and their offense came back to life.
Tyler Herro Steps Up
Jimmy Butler entered the night averaging 30.5 points per game in four playoff games. He’s been the engine of the Heat’s offense throughout the postseason. The question coming into this new series was who was going to step up on Butler’s off night. That player was Tyler Herro. It was clear heading into this series that he could thrive against Philadelphia’s drop coverage, and he definitely did. Herro scored well on all three levels of the court. The Heat guard was able to create opportunities for Adebayo on the roll with Herro drawing attention. This was best he has looked all postseason. Herro finished with a team-high 25 points and seven assists.
Adebayo Gets Big Inside
Without Embiid, who is out indefinitely, this was a huge opportunity for Adebayo to dominate inside. The 76ers have no big that can match up with Adebayo. He is too quick for DeAndre Jordan and can post up against the smaller bigs. He showed that very early in the game before disappearing in the second quarter. After the first half, Adebayo came out more aggressive and helped kick-start a Heat run in the third period. It’s cool that Adebayo can create opportunities for his teammates, however, there comes a time where Miami needs to run more sets for one of its top players. There have been too many times where the team will go away from him. If Miami wants to take that next step, they need to start involving Adebayo more offensively. Adebayo finished the night with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
P.J. Tucker Appreciation
For those following these takeaways throughout the season, you would notice there been a lot of P.J. Tucker appreciation. Since signing with the Heat, Tucker has been a vital piece in their run. We saw his defensive versatility put to display in the first round series against the Atlanta Hawks. And he did again on Monday against James Harden. From the start, Tucker picked up Harden full court and helped down low as well. He is the reason why Philadelphia’s offense was so stagnant early on. Additionally, he was just as impactful on the offensive end. Despite the numbers, Tucker provided plenty of second chance opportunities for Miami. The energy he provided on that end helped Miami get on a run in the second half. Tucker ended the night with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Next up: Game 2 in Miami. Tipoff at 7:30pm EDT on Wednesday.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23
Main Image designed by Jeremy Guerin @jeremycguerin