By Griffin Finch
The Philadelphia 76ers were able to close out their first round series against the Miami Heat in game five on Tuesday night. This does not come as a surprise seeing that the 76ers have more talent, are younger and have better shooters and defenders. The only thing that the Heat had on Philly was playoff experience primarily due to the presence of Dwayne Wade. While a lot of the games were close it was clear after game one where the 76ers throttled Miami 130-103 that the Heat were outgunned and outmatched in this series.
Philadelphia has been lucky enough to draft two transcendent talents in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Each of them has the potential to be the best player on the planet and they were the horses that pulled the 76ers to victory night in and night out. With these two on the roster Philadelphia had the two best players in the entire series. Philly also outclassed Miami when it came to shooting and defending. As far as shooting goes they have two bona fide marksmen in Marco Belinelli and JJ Redick. They also have an array of other quality shooters in Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Ersan Ilyasova. Defensively, head coach Brett Brown could put out a line up with everyone is 6’ 5’’ and above and all of them very tough defenders. These lineups caused Miami to go through serious scoring droughts at certain points within games. One of these lineups could possibly consist of Simmons at point guard, Belinelli at two guard, Covington at small forward, Saric at power forward and Embiid filling up the middle. Lineups like this were often used in the fourth quarter where Philly outscored the Heat 152-109 in the series. The 76ers owned the second half in this series which is why it only took five games for them to beat the Heat.
The Miami Heat were not ready for the young thoroughbreds out in the City of Brotherly Love. They were dominated by their youthful roster. The Heat’s roster did not play well either. Especially Hassan Whiteside who is supposed to be their best player. He is after all the 98 million dollar man. Whiteside however was anemic throughout the series. He just seemed to not want it the way your best player should. He wasn’t assertive at all. Even when he had a smaller guard on him, he would simply not go down to the block and back him down. If he had it would of been points every time for the Heat. As for the rest of the team, Goran Dragic is a one trick pony only capable of using his left hand. But he was able to produce and was probably their most effective player during the five game series. When Whiteside was brought out of the game, Kelly Olynyk could come out and shoot for them, but he was a huge defensive liability and got exposed consistently by the Philly bigs. All of their wings were very inconsistent with their shooting and as a team they had no answer for the dishing and swishing of potential Rookie of the Year Simmons. Overall Miami was ill prepared to deal with all the weapons at Philadelphia’s disposal.
Looking forward, for the Heat, Pat Riley needs to seriously consider blowing up what he has, and start from scratch because after this post season it is abundantly clear that Hassan Whiteside is not good enough to be the best player on a winning team. For Philadelphia, they look like the best team in the East right now and could very easily make it to the NBA Finals. This offseason the focus needs to be on keeping everything together and making improvements where they can be made. The 76ers franchise can look forward to being title contenders for the next decade as long as they keep Simmons and Embiid together. The future is truly bright in Philadelphia.