If the Sixers want to win their series against the Heat, they need to figure out how to stop Dwyane Wade from repeating his performance in Game 2.
C’mon. You didn’t really think it would be that easy, did you?
After the Philadelphia 76ers took the Miami Heat to the woodshed in Game 1 by a final of 130-103, some fans were already making plans for the inevitable championship parade on the Parkway. They saw a team that had won 17 straight games, most without All-Star center Joel Embiid, and figured nothing and no one could stop them.
Obviously, they forgot about Dwyane Wade and what he is still very capable of doing on a basketball court.
Unfortunately for the Sixers and their fans, everyone got a stark reminder of just how good Wade still is despite his 36 years on Saturday night.
Wade finished the night with 28 points, going 11 of 16 from the field to go along with 7 rebounds and 2 assists. But more important, it appeared that every time the Sixers seemed primed to make a run and close the gap, Wade was there to take the wind out of their sails.
According to Wade, the difference between Game 1 and Game 2 was all about his mindset and the style of play he was going to use against the Sixers.
“It was more so about the mentality. I just came in with an aggressive approach. The minutes I was going to play, whatever I was going to do, I was going to do it aggressively. Once the ball starts falling for you, then it just goes from there. I definitely came in with that mentality tonight and as (Justise) Winslow told me the other night, he told me, ‘Empty the clip.’ I didn’t empty it, but I definitely came in with that mindset.”
You can be sure that Wade will bring that aggression to the court again when the series resumes on Thursday in Miami.
The question then becomes, what can the Sixers do to stop or at least contain Wade? Because even with Embiid on the court, it’s not going to be easy.
We’re talking about a player who has won three titles and was named NBA Finals MVP. Wade has played against some of the best the game has to offer and beaten them. Despite everything the Sixers and their sensational rookie Ben Simmons bring to the hardwood, it is seriously doubtful that they intimidate a player like Wade all that much.
So how do you come out of South Beach with at least one win?
There are no easy answers for head coach Brett Brown and his young squad. For the Sixers, this is where their education begins about the vast differences between the regular season and the playoffs begins.
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For fans, they can only hope Simmons, Embiid, Covington and the rest are fast learners.
Game 3 is Thursday April 16 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Tip off is at 7 PM.