Sixers happy with win over Heat, but know they must still be better

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers were able to pick up an impressive 98-91 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night, but it didn’t come easy. There were still a lot of issues that still need to be cleaned up.

For one, the Sixers could be better against the zone defense the Heat throw at them. With the way the season is going, there is a high possibility that the Sixers and Heat face each other in a play-in game. The difference in that game could be how Philadelphia handles Miami’s zone defense.

“Not great, but not bad,” Kyle Lowry said of how the Sixers handled it on Monday. “So I guess mediocre? I think it always can be better. I think we did a good job of getting to the middle of it–me and Nico Batum in the middle of the floor. He’s a heck of a basketball player. So we get in the middle of the floor. we kind of space it out. We had a couple of mishaps with that, but it was it was a mediocre effort, but we could always be better.”

The Sixers were able to get some easy buckets out of it. Guys like Kelly Oubre Jr., for example, were able to get some open corner triples out of the zone offense. The ball movement was crisper than it had in the past against the Heat, and it led to an important win on Monday, but the Sixers have to find easier success against that type of defensive scheme.

“Better, better,” added Tyrese Maxey. “Last time we played them, they completely changed the game in the zone, and we ended up losing I think because of that. We played them well the entire game they went zone and it just slowed us all the way down last time, but, we were prepared and we worked on it during practice and shootaround and we executed. I mean, sometimes we slowed it down a couple times, but for us to be able to get shots out of it, we found guys that we needed to find, and it was good for us.”

The Sixers built a 12-point lead in the first half as they played their style of basketball and Maxey was able to get going early. Then, like a mad scientist, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called for his team to switch to a zone and Philadelphia struggled as Miami worked its way back into the game.

“I think that the big thing is that I thought the first half we got a little stagnant and stationary,” added coach Nick Nurse. “Towards the end of the first half, we finally started moving, and cutting, and things like that. We had a whole bunch of open-corner threes and we didn’t make a long stretch of them. I’m going to be pretty happy with a corner 3 against a zone and we found them, and then when you don’t make three in a row it looks really bad, but we were a little stagnant.”

The Sixers were able to find offensive success again in the third quarter, but overall, there are still lessons to learn from this win.

“I think we cut and moved a lot more,” Nurse added. “I thought we attacked some against the zone and when it got on the perimeter, Kelly made some great drives into the teeth of the defense and some kickouts. I thought Nico made a couple of decent passes and we got into the middle of the zone and then I thought we made about three really bad decisions in a row with a guy in the middle who took it kind of slow, like no one was guarding him, and someone from the side got him and there were people out to get it to. Let’s see, B-.”

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire