Miami Heat Gain Measure of Redemption and Revenge in 97-87 Thrashing of Philadelphia 76ers

Redemption and Revenge!

The term redemption has its roots in religion, referring to the forgiveness or absolution of past sins. While the Heat aren’t in danger of losing their immortal souls for their loss to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Season Opener last night, most Miami fans would say they committed a sin by allowing themselves to be embarrassed the way they did.

I’d say Miami’s 97-87 manhandling of the Sixers tonight served as redemption of the sin of that loss, and serves as a reminder that this South Beach Superteam might just be warming up.

Yet, that embarrassing loss led to numerous amounts of criticism, some well-deserved, from bloggers, analysts, pundits, and various media personalities, and gave pause to the hype that had surrounded the “Three Kings” ever since LeBron James announced his “Decision” to “take [his] talents to South Beach.”

I detailed some of that criticism in a preview I wrote for Miami’s matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers tonight, including the sickening diatribe spewed forth by Adrian Wojnarowski in his piece about LeBron James.

In that preview, I wrote how I believed Dwyane Wade would light up the Sixers like nobody’s business, and that LeBron James would be burning with a fire to show his detractors and haters how wrong they are about him.

I guess I was absolutely correct, as LeBron James, even while committing nine more turnovers on the night, led an extremely balanced Heat attack in demolishing Philadelphia. And don’t let the final score fool you, Miami dismantled the 76ers, thanks in large part to their Big Three, along with the help of sharpshooting James Jones.

LeBron got his revenge on those haters tonight, and was probably all smiles afterward knowing he had. As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold, and King James had an icy serving of it heaped on his plate; with the help of his teammates.

Dwyane Wade was dishing out most of it, shaking off the rust from last night to literally torch the Sixers for 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the floor, 1-of-2 from downtown, and 9-of-12 from the line in his 35:20 minutes of play. His statline also included seven rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocked shots.

More important than the stats, Wade simply dominated the game with the help of LeBron and Bosh. He looked like the Dwyane Wade Miami Heat fans have come to know and love, and I think he sent a clear message to the rest of the association that they better think twice before assuming he’s not ready for the season.

His partner in crime, LeBron James, didn’t fill up the stat sheet the way he did in the loss to the Celtics, but I’m convinced that was by design. When it was first announced LeBron was coming to South Beach, there were numerous articles laying out how he would be more of a facilitator in Miami similar to Magic Johnson. Last night he tried to shoulder the load all by himself to a great degree, but that was because Wade and Bosh simply didn’t come out seemingly ready to play.

Tonight, he allowed the game to flow, and ended the night with a decent 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting in 37:33 minutes of play, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. He didn’t force the issue, but got his teammates involved instead, and that proved to be a winning formula, as he yanked down six rebounds and led the Heat in assists on the night with seven.

Bosh seemed to regain his form as well, as he poured in 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor and 3-of-5 from the line to go along with his seven rebounds in a game-high 39:09 minutes of play. He also had one assist, one turnover, one steal, and one blocked shot to fill the statline.

Other than Wade, James Jones was the hero of the night, however, draining 6-of-9 from downtown on the night to finish with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 29:31 minutes of play. Simply put, he proved exactly why Miami brought him back, and was one of the main catalysts in the Heat’s victory over the Sixers.

Carlos Arroyo shared the point guard duties with Eddie House (even though James handled the ball much of the night) scoring six points on 3-of-7 shooting, grabbing three rebounds, and dishing out an assist.

While House didn’t score much, draining just one three-pointer on the night, he was effective in harassing Philadelphia’s players in his 21:39 minutes of play, and did many of the intangibles that will never make a boxscore.

Udonis Haslem had an uncharacteristically scoreless night, as he was limited to just 12:42 minutes of play because of foul trouble. He did haul in five rebounds, and played well on defense (despite the fouls) when he was in the game.

Although Joel Anthony also went scoreless on the night (seems like that’s a recurring theme with Joel) in the 17:37 minutes he was on the floor, his presence was felt at times on the defensive end. He was backed up by Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who played nearly nine minutes, scoring five points and hauling down three boards, but Bosh played a good deal of the time in the five-hole.

Jerry Stackhouse and Juwan Howard both made their Heat debuts as well, playing just over five and four minutes respectively, with Stackhouse scoring two points on two free throws to go along with a rebound and an assist.

Howard didn’t record any stats whatsoever in his four minutes, but it was memorable if for no other reason than it was the first time Riley got to see the man he tried so desperately to obtain in the late 1990s roaming the court in a Heat jersey.

As for the Philadelphia 76ers, they were led on the night by rookie Evan Turner, who had an incredibly impressive all-around game, scoring 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-3 from the charity stripe, while hauling in seven boards, dishing out four assists, and recording a blocked shot on the night in his 30:40 minutes of play.

Andre Iguodala logged more minutes than any other Sixer, playing an impressive 38:55 minutes as he also had a well-rounded game, scoring 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting, while grabbing seven rebounds himself and dishing out five assists. He also had two steals on the night and only two turnovers, but simply couldn’t overcome his opposite from the Heat, Dwyane Wade’s heroic performance.

Elton Brand was the only other starter in double figures besides A.I., scoring 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting in his 33:52 minutes of play. He also hauled in nine rebounds, had three steals, and blocked two shots, but just wasn’t enough to compensate for Chris Bosh and the rest of the Miami players.

Turner was one of four Sixers’ reserves who scored in double figures, though, as Louis Williams had 15 points and seven assists, Thaddeus Young notched 15 points of his own as well as three rebounds, and Andre Nocioni recorded 10 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

Marreese Speights seemed surprisingly absent from the game, playing only a little over three and a half minutes and scoring just one point on 1-of-2 from the free-throw line. This surprised me only because I felt certain he would enjoy some matchup problems with Miami players when Spoelstra rotated in some of the Heat’s reserves.

Yet, regardless of why he played poorly and in limited time, I’m confident Doug Collins will eventually find a way to utilize his talents. I’m just glad they weren’t on display to a greater degree tonight.

I won’t crow and say this is a sure sign the Heat are on their way to a title, as everyone who’s read my work knows I already believe that. I will say this is the first step in granting the Heat redemption and revenge. Redemption for the sin of losing to Boston, and revenge against their numerous haters and detractors.

Sylvester Stallone was once quoted as saying the following:

“Most action is based on redemption and revenge, and that’s a formula. Moby Dick was formula. It’s how you get to the conclusion that makes it interesting.”

Miami had a formula for winning tonight, and I believe they have a formula for winning a title this year, and it’ll be the getting to that conclusion that’ll be interesting to see.

We’ll see more of it this Friday against the Orlando Magic.

Game On!

Topics: Andre Iguodala, Andres Nocioni, Boston Celtics, Carlos Arroyo, Chris Bosh, Doug Collins, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Erik Spoelstra, Evan Turner, James Jones, Jerry Stackhouse, Joel Anthony, Jrue Holiday, Juwan Howard, Lebron James, Marreese Speights, Miami Heat, NBA, Orlando Magic, Pat Riley, Philadelphia 76ers, Sylvester Stallone, Thaddeus Young, Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

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