Breaking news: The Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers do not particularly care for each other. If that fact wasn't already confirmed before the Heats's disappointing 128-108 loss to the Sixers Thursday night, it certainly is now. There are intense playoff games; then there are games that border on a Jason Statham movie. Last night was definitely the latter, and it leaves the Heat players looking for answers while licking their wounds and icing their egos heading into a must-win Game 4 Sunday night in Miami.
From the jump, this game was different. Both teams grabbed a win in their first two meetings, making Game 3 a big-time swing contest in terms of momentum. Philly wanted its home-court advantage back. Miami wanted to prove it doesn't take a vintage Dwyane Wade game to barely beat Philadelphia. After quite a few hard fouls, taunting technicals, and shoves, things finally boiled over when Wade got into it with Sixers scrub Justin Anderson.
The play would earn both players a technical foul, but the bigger result would be the refs calling the game the rest of the way as if they were trying to prevent a riot. From then on, it seemed there was a whistle on every play, warranted or not. Most of the time, it was warranted.
Justin Anderson doesn't want none of this Dwyane Wade smoke. pic.twitter.com/oiZRFqfZLu— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 19, 2018
After the tussle, the fight was on. There seemed to be someone turning up every possession. The 76ers and Heat continued to trade baskets, many times with taunts following. Ben Simmons decided it was a good idea to jaw at James "Bloodsport" Johnson, who has an 8-0 record as a black-belt MMA fighter. That almost ended poorly for Simmons, but thankfully for him, the refs stepped in and gave both players technicals.
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Soon it would be Goran Dragic and Marco Belinelli's turn to get into near fisticuffs. The pair had been jawing at each other for most of the game, and eventually both received their own dueling technical fouls from the refs, who were trying to calm the two. But then things almost boiled over again and seemed a moment away from getting both Euroleague All-Stars ejected.
Goran Dragic finishes the tough layup and screams in Marco Belinelli's face. pic.twitter.com/xeHEDchSPL— Top Ball (@TopBallCoverage) April 20, 2018
The fighting and jawing made for an entertaining game, but what mattered most is Philly couldn't miss all night, and Miami was incapable of keeping up the offensive pace. The Heat, a team known for its defensive identity, has now given up 130 and 128 points in this series: That won't get it done.
Come Sunday night in Miami, the Heat better channel all of its energy into physical defense, or it'll be one punch away from a knockout.