By Michael Donovan
Even with Joel Embiid having a deeply sub-par game.
Even though they committed an unforgivable 27 turnovers.
Even though they were on the road.
The Sixers are now within one more win against the Miami Heat of making the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Ben Simmons had the first playoff triple-double by a rookie in nearly 40 years, JJ Redick scored 24 points and the Sixers outlasted the Miami Heat 106-102.
The 76ers lead the Eastern Conference series 3-1 and can close out the Heat when play resumes at the Wells on Tuesday night.
Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson in 1980 to post a playoff triple-double — 17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists. Embiid (above) finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for Philly.
Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 25 points off the bench for the Heat, who led by 12 points in the second half before letting a game they almost certainly had to have slip away.
Wade carried the comeback effort, with the Heat down six and less than 2 minutes left. His three-point play cut the margin in half and his next two field goals got Miami within one each time.
The Heat got no closer.
Goran Dragic scored 20, James Johnson had 15 and Hassan Whitesidefinished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, which now needs to pull off some history. The Heat have erased a 3-1 deficit only once, in 1997 against New York.
Miami held slim leads at the half — 2-0 in players who went to the locker room injured, 4-0 in stitches received, 61-56 on the scoreboard.
A wild scene was the story of the second quarter. The Sixers’ Dario Saric was driving from the right wing and had his dribble knocked away by Justise Winslow, and four players wound up on the floor as they went for the loose ball. Josh Richardson took the worst of it, getting slammed into by Embiid. Richardson stayed down for more than a minute, eventually getting helped to his feet and to the Miami locker room.
Hardly anyone noticed.
All eyes were on the other end, where Dragic was shoved to the floor by Robert Covington. James Johnson — a black belt and MMA fighter — took exception and went toward Covington, so Simmons came in for a few words.
It wound up taking two referees, two Heat coaches and a few players to get everyone separated.
Winslow needed stitches to close a gash over his left eye. Richardson, his left shoulder bruised, came back for the second half. Simmons sent another message moments after the dustup by drilling Wade.
Miami led by 12 in the third, but ceded control in a hurry. The Heat went five minutes without scoring, and Redick’s reverse layup with 9:01 left capped a 14-0 run that put Philadelphia up 87-83.
The 76ers wouldn’t trail again.