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Prime time games for Eagles during 2018 regular season

Redick, Sixers rally past Heat

Posted by Eric Fisher On April 14

For the first half, the 76ers looked like a team making its first playoff appearance in six seasons.

In the second half, however, the Sixers looked like the dominating team that entered the postseason on a 16-game winning streak.

The Sixers outscored the visiting Heat by 31 points during the second half en route to a 130-103 triumph in Game 1 of their first-round series.

“We came in at halftime unhappy with their ‘three’s’,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said, “and we were unhappy with our turnovers.”

The Sixers appeared to have postseason jitters during the first half as they committed 10 turnovers. They weren’t charged with any turnovers during the second half.

And the Sixers certainly were better on defense during the second half. They harassed the Heat into missed shots and turnovers. During a 15-0 run that gave the Sixers a 71-63 lead, the Sixers played tremendous defense, with Robert Covington blocking two shots.

“I thought (Covington) was unbelievable,” Brown said. “He was fantastic.”

At the other end of the court, JJ Redick was fantastic, scoring 28 points for the third time in the nine games since Joel Embiid was sidelined by a broken left orbital bone. Redick appeared he might join Embiid on the sideline when he fell awkwardly at the start of the game. But he returned to the court and caught fire during the second half. At the start of the fourth quarter, Redick scored 10 straights Sixers points.

If Redick was fantastic, Marco Belinelli was unbelievable, making some long-distance circus shots to account for 25 points.

“Some of the circus shots that Marco makes (are) ridiculous,” Brown said. “He’s the best player I’ve coached at shooting off-balance.”

Belinelli was complimented by Brown, but he was complemented by Ersan Ilyasova, who came off the bench to score 17 points and snare 14 rebounds. Belinelli and Ilyasova, both signed this season after being bought out of their contracts by the Hawks, combined for 42 points off the bench.

“The inclusion of those two has certainly changed our world,” Brown said.

Not mentioned yet is Dario Saric, who scored 20 points, grabbed six rebounds and hustled throughout the game, and Ben Simmons, who came within one rebound of a triple double. Simmons scored 17 points, dished out 14 assists and grabbed nine rebounds. After committing five turnovers during the first half, Simmons didn’t commit any during the second half.

In addition to the emphasis on taking better care of the basketball and defending better, Brown made one more adjustment at halftime. He inserted Ilyasova into the lineup at the start of the second half in place of Amir Johnson.

After an initial stumble, the Sixers took complete control of the game during the third quarter. The Sixers started the second half trailing by four points, 60-56. The exited the third quarter with a 90-78 lead.

It seemed as if the Sixers couldn’t miss from 3-point range during the second half. They finished the game with a franchise-playoff record 18 3-pointers. They reached that total by making 64.3 percent of their attempts against one of the best teams at defending the 3-point shot.

The dominating second half could go to the young Sixers’ heads. That’s why veterans such as Redick are so valuable.

“We don’t get any extra points for winning by 27,” Redick said.

We’ll see whether the Sixers carry over any momentum from their dominant second half Monday (8 p.m.) when they host the Heat in Game 2 of the series.

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