It’s been a rollercoaster round 1 in the playoffs for the Miami HEAT. When they’re good, they’re really good, but when they’re bad, the Sixers are notching 125+ points and they’re really bad. Saturday at the AAA will be a crucial game 4 for the unlikely roster that brought South Beach back to the playoffs, but a win isn’t out of the question, even with the returned of the masked Joel Embiid.
Here are 5 keys to the game for the HEAT:
- We get it. This is Wade County and will always be Wade County, but Dwyane Wade can’t always be expected to have 15-point 2nd quarters and put up 28 points in the game, especially when he’s really playing about 25 minutes per game. Game 3 saw the rest of the guys looking to Wade to be that savior from game 2, and that’s just not realistic. Instead, the HEAT staff need to start focusing more on Goran Dragic. He was 8-13 in game 3, and he has the potential to be the game changer in every game. Plus, he can play more than 25 minutes, yet it seems that he’s always around that number. Point is give the ball to Goran!
- The HEAT cannot get caught in a shooting war with the Sixers. That’s not their game and hasn’t been their game all season. In fact, only twice this season have the HEAT allowed an opponent to score over 115 points and won the game. Game 2 was where the HEAT showcased their defensive prowess. They made Ben Simmons uncomfortable. They didn’t allow the shooters to bury them with the 3 ball, and that was a victory. Yes, the return of Joel Embiid means that defense has to make sure the interior is secure, but the HEAT is known for their defense. No shooting war with the Sixers is a good way to secure the W in game 4.
- Stay out of foul trouble, especially on the perimeter. There are too many times where the HEAT fouls on a 3 ball and ends up giving up the 4-point play. It’s actually uncanny how many times to foul behind the arc.
- For now, the “next man up” is the way the HEAT have thrived. That man was Justise Winslow in game 2. He had 19 points at the half and finished with 19 points. In the second half he attempted 5 more shots and missed them all. Guess what? “Next man up” might not be the solution, and Winslow isn’t known for his offensive ability. Give the ball on offense to the guys you know can actually score consistently (Goran Dragic – see key #1).
- Finally, remember that no one expects this hodge podge roster to do anything, so they really have nothing to lose. If they lose the series, it’s expected, so playing with a chip on their shoulders is what fans would expect. We saw it in game 2. Time to consistently start playing like they have nothing to lose.
The Sixers are still a young roster. While they are very talented, there’s a lot to be said for the team who has more experience on their side.