Heat-76ers has featured a carnival of both clean contact and forceful fouls — 82 by Miami and 75 by Philadelphia.
But the 76ers said Friday they’re braced for even more physicality from the Heat in Game 4 at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday, and Heat forward Justise Winslow said in some ways, that’s needed.
“Just making them feel us more than we feel them,” Winslow said. “Hitting first, making them hit the deck a couple times, being the first one on the loose ball. We made mistakes last night. There are definitely more opportunities for us to be physical and correct some of those mistakes.”
Heat guard Tyler Johnson said “it’s definitely a lot different than the regular season. This is one of the more physical series throughout the playoffs. It’s the way basketball is supposed to be played.”
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The 76ers’ two best players said they embrace all of it, even though the chippiness led to six technical fouls in Game 3.
“I feel like I’m one of the most physical players in the league,” 76ers center Joel Embiid said. “I love contact, I love attacking, I love going to the free-throw line. We just have to come in [Saturday], try to punch them in the mouth early and then I think the series is going to be different.”
Added 76ers guard Ben Simmons: “I think that second game, where they held us is very physical. I’m enjoying it.”
76ers coach Brett Brown has cautioned his team.
“There is a complete overarching sort of feeling and trying to get ahead of the story — we know what tomorrow’s going to look like physically,” Brown said. “I’ve lived this life [as a former Spurs assistant] and it helps me to predict, you know, how the game is going to be played [Saturday].
“So welcoming that, handling it with maturity and sort of professional sophistication. … There is physical style of play that this game will be played with. … We know what [Saturday’s] going to look like is what’s most on my mind today.”
Said Heat forward James Johnson: “I think we’re physical to a point where it’s good physical. Anything other than that, dumb fouls, cheap fouls, we don’t need that.”
Winslow said one reason he’s thriving in this series (10.0 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) is that “postseason allows me to play to my strengths, which is physicality. It allows me to engage myself in the game on both ends of the court, being aggressive. It’s amplified intensity and physicality they let us play with and I’m just taking advantage of it.”
▪ Tyler Johnson said X-rays on his left thumb were negative. After crashing into Embiid on a screen early in Game 3, “I lost my balance when I ran into him. I tried to brace myself on the floor and jammed my thumb. It’s a little sore, nothing that’s not manageable.”
But Johnson hit all four of his shots in the game after that collision.
▪ Embiid said he loved motioning for the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd to be quiet after he hit a three-pointer.
“When I made that three, that was actually my first shot made of the game and I kind of went out of my way to shush the crowd, that got me going,” Embiid said. “I actually think I play better on the road. I love the atmosphere. I love looking around the arena, people booing. People going against us. That just takes my game to another level.”
▪ The winner of Game 3 of a best-of-7 NBA playoff series has won that series 73.3 percent of the time.
▪ The 76ers' scoring totals in Games 1 (130) and Game 3 (128) were the most ever relinquished by the Heat in postseason.
▪ The Heat’s 14 fourth-quarter points in Game 3 tied its fewest in a postseason home game.
▪ More Miami-Fort Lauderdale viewers have been watching the national telecasts of Heat playoff games than local telecasts. The four games on Fox Sports Sun are averaging a 4.0, equal to 4.0 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets.
Conversely, Game 1 on ESPN generated a 5.6 local rating, and the two Heat games so far on TNT averaged a 5.3. Fox Sports Sun can televise games only through the first round.