Five takeaways from the Miami Heat's 130-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Center:
1. The Heat has a lot of work to do on the defensive end before Game 2.
The second half was a horror show for Miami defending the Sixers’ shooters. JJ Redick scored 23 of his game-high 28 points in the second half on 6 of 8 shooting. Dario Saric had 13 points of 5 of 7 shooting, Ersan Ilyasova had 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting and Marco Belinelli had 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting. They made a combined 10 threes on 12 attempts in the second half.
Only three of Redick's 13 shot attempts in the second half were contested. He was 6 of 10 on uncontested shots. Only six of Belinelli's 17 shots were contested. Saric had only seven of his 15 shots contested. He was 6 of 8 on uncontested shots.
In all, the Heat contested 49 shots (the Sixers made 19 of them for a 38.8 percent shooting percentage), but left the Sixers open for 46 uncontested shots. Philadelphia made 26 of them (56.5 percent).
The Heat had only nine screen assists the entire game (Bam Adebayo 4, Wayne Ellington 2, Kelly Olynyk 2 and Josh Richardson 1). Miami averaged 11.6 per game in the regular season, second-most in the league (11.4 per game). The Sixers, meanwhile, had 24 screen assists. Philly averaged 9.6 per game (11th in NBA) during the regular season.
"It's the quality of looks, it's the ball movement, it's the screening, it's the fact that we have good shooters," Redick said of why the Sixers offense exploded in the second half. "This is sort of how we've played since [Joel Embiid] has been out. It creates a lot of problems for the defense because there's a lot of times where we're playing Ersan [Ilyasova] and Dario [Šarić] together at the four and five and the other two wings are shooters and you've got Ben [Simmons] going downhill. If it's an open floor you've got to make a choice and it’s pick-and-pop, two-man, catch and shoot. There's all sorts of problems. The other thing I think, like with Ben attacking downhill, Marco [Belinelli] is cutting, Dario is cutting, all of a sudden you start switching out on that stuff. Those guys make those adjustments and we get layups."
The Sixers had 326 passes and 34 assists compared to 277 passes and 25 assists for the Heat.
The Heat stook 46 uncontested shots compared to 32 contested shots. Miami was only slightly better on uncontested shots (45.7) than on the contested shots (43.8).
2. Hassan Whiteside didn't play a lot (12 minutes, 26 seconds) and didn't do a lot (2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks). But did he play poorly or was he simply the casualty of a smaller, faster Sixers lineup?
You can talk about effort, but according to Second Spectrum, Whiteside only had eight opportunities to grab rebounds. He finished with six.
Offensively during the regular season, Whiteside averaged 10.2 of his 14 points per game inside the paint. Saturday night, he touched the ball only 17 times total.
Of Whiteside's four shot attempts, his only make was on a layup off a lob from James Johnson in the with 5:29 left in the first quarter. His other shots: a 10-foot floater which fell short of the rim as he rushed to try and beat the shot clock; a missed tip-in attempt on a Johnson missed jumper and a failed alley-oop dunk in the third quarter on a lob from Josh Richardson that was a little too high.
"I got to get into the film and watch my minutes and look at it," Whiteside said.
3. Miami lost the turnover battle and needs to flip the script in Game 2.
The Sixers, the league leaders in turnovers this season with 16.5 per game, coughed it up only once in the second half after turning it over 10 times in the first half. Ben Simmons had nine assists and no turnovers in the second half after having five assists and five turnovers in the first half.
The Heat's 18 turnovers, meanwhile, led directly to 28 points for the Sixers. Philadelphia's 11 turnovers led to only 14 points for the Heat.
"I was unhappy with our turnovers," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of what bothered him in the first half Saturday. "We felt like if we could defend better, especially as it related to three-point line, and we felt like if we could care for the ball more than 10 [first half] turnovers -- that's not winning any playoff game -- then we could be in pretty good shape. I believe we didn't have a turnover the entire second half. I give Ben Simmons a credit for making an adjustment to his own game in the second half."
4. The Dragon has been firing blanks lately.
Goran Dragic had 15 points for the Heat, but was 4 of 14 from the field and 1 of 10 on shots inside the three-point line. He scored only two points in the paint on 1 of 7 shooting from five feet in (Dragic shot 57.2 percent on the 367 shots he took inside 5 feet in the regular season). He averaged 7.6 points per game in the paint this season.
According to Second Spectrum, Dragic was 4 of 9 on uncontested shots and 0 for 5 on contested shots. The long arms and defensive skills of Robert Covington had a lot to do with it. So did Dragic's ailing right knee.
"He was huge. Had a lot of deflections, blocks," Ben Simmons said of Covington. "He’s just a great defender all around. He's long and he did a great job tonight."
Dragic, by the way, was 2 of 10 from the field in his last regular season game against Oklahoma City.
5. James Johnson looked good early and then vanished.
Johnson, 31, scored 13 points in the first half on 5 of 7 shooting, but was scoreless the second half and took only two shots in 8 minutes, 9 seconds of work.
"You don't win this series with one game," Johnson said. "It's a series. We've still got to go home. We've still got to play here one more time. I still like where we're at. For everybody else, it's just a rude awakening to the playoffs."
** The Sixers had 13 deflections compared to four for the Heat. Philly averaged 15.4 per game in the regular season (fourth) and Miami averaged 14.3 per game (11th).
** The Heat was outscored by 30 points when Josh Richardson was on the floor in Game 1. He was 1 of 7 from the field and 0 for 4 from three-point range with four points, four rebounds and four assists and two steals.
** Justise Winslow played more than anyone else for the Heat (31 minutes, 10 seconds) and was 4 of 8 from the floor for nine points with seven rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block. Only Kelly Olynyk was better in terms of plus/minus for the Heat (-3) than Winslow (-4).
** Dwyane Wade was 4 of 7 shooting for 11 points in 19 minutes, 29 seconds of work off the bench. He also had four rebounds, four assists and only one turnover.