76ers pull away from Heat in Game 1 to win their 17th straight game

Mitchell Leff - Getty Images

Make it 17 in a row for the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers.

And they used another dominant third quarter to record their first playoff win in six years.

Ben Simmons was one rebound away from a triple-double in his first career postseason game, posting 17 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds as the Sixers pulled away from the Miami Heat 130-103 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series at an electric Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.

The No. 3 seed 76ers outscored the Heat 34-18 in the pivotal third quarter and used a 20-2 run to seize control of the game in the frame. Philadelphia went from trailing 60-56 at halftime to leading 90-78 heading into the fourth, where it cruised to the finish line and led by as many as 29.

All of this was without Joel Embiid again too.

Philly has eviscerated its competition 514-385 (30.2-22.6) coming out of the locker room in the third period during its 17-game winning streak. The Sixers have outscored their opponents by double digits in seven of those games and their enemies have only outscored them in three of them.

Redick poured in a team-high 28 points, Marco Belinelli added 25 off the bench and Dario Saric netted 20 for Philadelphia, which won its first playoff game since taking Game 6 82-75 against the Boston Celtics on May 23, 2012 to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Robert Covington was fantastic on both ends of the floor, registering three blocks. He added nine points, seven rebounds and four helpers.

Embiid’s return from a broken orbital bone is still unkown, but that didn’t stop him from celebrating on the bench following this crazy Belinelli three.

The Sixers were 18-of-28 from beyond the arc.

Philadelphia trailed 63-56 before embarking on its elongated surge. J.J. Redick knocked down a 3-pointer and Ersan Ilyasova a pair of triples to begin the outburst, with Redick sinking a trio of foul shots to cap it and give the Sixers a 76-65 advantage a little past the midway point of the frame. Miami was held without a field goal for 6:51 during that torrid stretch.

Ilyasova started the second half at the center spot, with the Sixers playing five out to take Miami big man Hassan Whiteside out of the game and making him guard the perimeter instead of camping by the basket and playing the role of rim protector. Due to the change, Whiteside wound up playing just 12 total minutes.

Earlier, the Heat raced out to a 12-point lead during the latter stages of the opening frame, but Markelle Fultz provided a spark on the defensive end to close the period. He posted a pair of steals and gave the Sixers some momentum heading into the second despite trailing 35-29.

Simmons rifled a right wing pass underneath to Saric underneath to cap an 18-3 run, which gave the Sixers a 41-38 lead.

Kelly Olynyk had 26 points to pace the sixth-seeded Heat, who split the regular season series against Philly 2-2.

Game 2 is Monday night at Wells Fargo Center.


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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