In the Bonus | 03.08.18 vs Heat

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

The following notes and nuggets were taken from the 76ers’ March 8th 108-99 loss to the Miami Heat.

Click here for a complete recap of the game, and be sure to check out our post-game pod below:

Bonus Points:

• With Thursday’s loss at American Airlines Arena, the Sixers were denied their first victory in a four-game season series with the Miami Heat since the 2006-2007 campaign. Each meeting this year was tightly played, and decided by fewer than 10 points. The combined scoring margin in the four games the Sixers and Heat played against each other this winter was two points, favoring Miami.

Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s head coach, did a nice job Thursday summing up how the contests between the clubs generally went:

“Our guys understood what this game meant. If we played 100 times, how is that series going to come out? Who knows. This game easily could’ve been a two or three point game. You just have two very competitive and evenly-matched teams. We would go on a run, they would go on a run. It’s been like that for four games.”

• As the Miami Heat learned the hard way just seconds after Thursday’s opening tap, life - or, better put, Ben Simmons - can come at you fast. If there’s one thing the Aussie’s debut campaign has revealed, it’s that opponents should always be on alert for the threat he poses in transition.

• Let’s dive right into the role that transition scoring played in Thursday’s game. For the better part of two and a half quarters, the Sixers, fueled by Ben Simmons, had their way in this department. By the time the rookie subbed out with under three minutes remaining in the third period, his club held a commanding 23-2 edge in fastbreak points. Miami, however, adjusted, and tightened up its transition defense in crunch time, spotting the Sixers only one more transition point the rest of the way. The Sixers had a 24-7 fastbreak points edge by the end of the night.

• The Sixers’ 24 fastbreak points Thursday marked their third-highest total of the season. They generated a season-high 33 transition points in a February 10th victory over the LA Clippers, and netted 25 fastbreak points in a December 18th loss at Chicago.

• The 17-point differential the Sixers enjoyed in fastbreak scoring Thursday was their second-largest on the season. They outdid the LA Clippers by 26 fastbreak points in that same February 10th game.

• Continuing to rank as one of the NBA’s most prolific paint scorers this season, Ben Simmons manufactured all 10 of his points at Miami on the interior. As of Friday morning, the 21-year old was fourth in the league averaging 13.1 points in the paint per game. He trailed All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo (15.9), Anthony Davis (15.0), and LeBron James (14.1).

• With everything Ben Simmons has done to put himself in position to deliver a historic rookie season, it’s easy to focus first and foremost on things like his impressive open-court highlights, or his double-doubles and triple-doubles. Often times, though, Simmons provides important, subtle contributions over the course of a game, too. Such was the case Thursday in Miami, where his hustle stood out on these two sequences in the closing minute of the first half. 

• JJ Redick served an important role down the stretch of Thursday’s first half. After Miami went ahead by 12 points, he came up with a steal that ultimately led to his own transition three. That lit the fuse for a spurt in which he drained three 3-pointers and handed out an assist before the intermission buzzer sounded. All said and done, Redick had a say in each of the last 12 points the Sixers scored prior to the break.

• Sinking another triple 76 seconds into Thursday’s third quarter, JJ Redick started his night 4 for 4 from outside the arc. He finished the evening 4 for 6 from deep, and has converted 17 of 28 3-point attempts (60.7%) over his last four outings.

• Dario Saric is another Sixer who’s been shooting lights out from 3-point territory lately. The second-year forward has knocked down more than half of his perimeter attempts in each of the three games the Sixers have played on their current road trip. Saric went 4 for 5 from three at Milwaukee, and then 4 for 7 at both Charlotte and Miami. Saric’s 3-point efficiency has experienced a massive hike this season, now sitting at 39.5 percent. He connected on 31.1 percent of his outside shots a year ago.

• About Robert Covington, Brett Brown said Thursday, “As long as he’s guarding, that’s where my interest really lies.” After spearheading a defensive effort that limited All-Star Kemba Walker to 5 points on 1 for 9 shooting Tuesday in Charlotte, Covington was at it again against Miami. The swingman was used frequently on Goran Dragic, another All-Star, who mustered just 7 points, while shooting 3 for 13 from the field. As of Friday morning, Covington’s 2.89 defensive real plus-minus rating was second-best among all small forwards in the NBA.