Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (R) and Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (L) wait for a rebound during the second period of game four of the Eastern Conference First Round playoffs at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, USA, Apr. 21, 2018. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE
Miami, USA, Apr 21 (efe-epa).- The Philadelphia 76ers took a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first round playoff series against the Miami Heat, winning Game four 106-102 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on Saturday night.
Ben Simmons became only the fifth rookie ever to score a triple-double in the playoffs, scoring 17 points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists as the Sixers cemented their grip on the series.
Philadelphia’s other young star Joel Embiid also had a fine outing, putting up 14 points and 12 rebounds with five blocks, while JJ Redick led the scoring for the 76ers with 24 points.
“He’s very tough physically, but he’s even tougher mentally. The last four games (…) he’s been fantastic. He’s coming out of his shell in regards to leadership, and that’s huge for us”, Redick said of Simmons after the game.
76ers coach Brett Brown was effusive in his praise of his two young stars, Embiid and Simmons.
“I do not use that word lightly, I think that those two players have the chance to be great”, Brown said.
Miami now face an uphill task to take the series to seven games, with Games five and six returning to Philadelphia.
The Heat were led by veteran Dwyane Wade, who had 25 points, while Goran Dragic added 20. Hassan Whiteside had a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Miami tried their best to upset their more youthful opponents by means both fair and foul as things got physical again, just as they had in Game three. A scuffle in the second quarter had players and coaches off the bench to intervene.
Despite their inexperience, the 76ers did not lose their cool, and they appear to be well equipped to make a run to the conference final, with their performances in games three and four proving they can go into hostile territory and come out with a win.
They went into the half trailing by five, but after allowing the Heat to open up a 10-point lead during the third quarter, Philadelphia, led by the indefatigable Simmons turned the screw in the fourth, outscoring Miami 27-19 in the crucial closing stages.
Game five on Monday sees the series shift back to Philadelphia, with the Heat needing three straight wins to move on to the next round.