Dwyane Wade has played 81 road playoff games in his career and experienced the deafening sounds of cheers and boos inside 17 different arenas.
When it comes to pure noise, the 12-time All-Star says, few gyms get louder than the one the Philadelphia 76ers call home. The Sixers have owned the NBA's best home record since Jan. 1, winning 23 of their last 25 at the Wells Fargo Center, the fifth-largest arena in terms of crowd capacity (20,328) in the NBA.
"I told the guys this is going to be a crazy crowd man,” said Wade, who is 1-1 in playoff games in Philadelphia and 14-12 all-time there counting the regular season and playoffs. “This city, even when they were in their losing seasons, they supported their team. Now that they’re back in the playoffs, this Game 1 is one of those environments it could give you the chills if you ain't ready for it.
“A lot of our guys are going to grow. It’s going to be different than the Charlotte series and even the Toronto series [two seasons ago] that some of these guys played in. The fan base here is something special. So, it's going to be something to play here.”
The Heat, which has won only two of its final 14 road games in the regular season, lost both of its games in Philly this season including blowing a 24-point third quarter lead in its last visit to the Wells Fargo Center.
“It definitely is loud,” said Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, who prior to coming to the Heat saw the Sixers, a division rival, plenty as a member of the Celtics. “But I like that arena man. I like the colors. It's bright. It's nice. Those fans are diehard fans. You love to play basketball in front of people like that, who are really into the game and believe in their team.”
Heat point guard Goran Dragic said Philadelphia and Portland are the two loudest NBA arenas in his opinion for road teams. Communicating he says isn’t easy in Philly. So the Heat will rely on hand signals plenty.
“The good news is we already got a good grip on the hand signals,” Dragic said with a smile. “Especially because of my accent, that’s how we usually communicate.”
Dragic, 31, said that as loud as Sixers fan get during this series it still won’t be as loud to him as it is playing overseas.
“In Europe they’re crazy,” said Dragic, who led Slovenia to the EuroBasket gold medal last summer. “In Belgrade, in Serbia, those are the loudest place I think in the whole world.”
▪ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he used forward Derrick Jones Jr. (6-7, 195) Friday at practice and assistant coach Juwan Howard (6-9, 250) at Saturday at shoot around as scout team players to simulate Sixers rookie point guard Ben Simmons (6-10, 230).
“Juwan could still play eight to 10 minutes,” Spoelstra said. “I say that all the time. He and [assistant] Chris Quinn still take the body fat test. ... They’re ready to roll.”