MIAMI — After the 76ers’ Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat, Doc Rivers was bullish on DeAndre Jordan remaining in the starting center while MVP finalist Joel Embiid is sidelined with an orbital fracture and concussion.
But the coach — and Jordan himself — also acknowledged that, throughout this series, they need the version of Jordan who began Game 1′s third quarter, not the one who started Monday’s game.
Jordan committed two turnovers and had a plus/minus of minus-12 in his first four minutes of Game 1, while Heat star Bam Adebyo had six points on 3-of-3 shooting and three rebounds during the same span. The Sixers trailed 15-6 when he subbed out, a deficit that eventually grew to 14 points.
At the start of the third quarter, meanwhile, Jordan gave the Sixers a 55-50 lead on an alley-oop dunk. His team trailed by one when Jordan exited the game for Paul Reed, but he re-entered quickly when Reed picked up his fourth foul. The Heat began to rebuild their double-digit lead.
“The first half was night and day from the second half,” Jordan said before Wednesday’s Game 2 shootaround. “I thought, in the second half, there was a little more energy — not only from me individually, but just from our team. So I feel like if we can harness that for the first half, we’ll be all right. …
“Even watching the clips, [I was in] more of a stance, more active, more alert to different actions, and that’s just defensively.”
Jordan finished with four points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of Game 1. He is expected to share the center minutes with Reed and Paul Millsap again in Game 2.
“We’re going to need more from all three of them,” Rivers said.
Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro anchoring Heat’s depth
The Sixers are set to watch an opposing player accept an NBA award for the second consecutive playoff series. After the Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes was named the Rookie of the Year during their first-round matchup, the Heat’s Tyler Herro was named the Sixth Man of the Year on Tuesday.
Herro showed why in Miami’s Game 1 victory, totaling 25 points, including shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range, and seven assists. Rivers said before Wednesday’s shootaround that the Sixers “lost him several times,” including on three “point-blank shots in transition.”
“Probably not the right guy to lose would be what I would say,” Rivers said. " … And you’ve got to guard him. He’s the one guy on their team that is really good with the basketball, that can take you off the dribble, that can shoot off the dribble. He’s a very important cog to what they’re doing.”
Herro anchors the Heat’s depth, which helped them finish with the East’s best record despite numerous injuries over the course of the season. Gabe Vincent has stepped in for star point guard Kyle Lowry, who was ruled out for Game 2 with a hamstring injury. And that sharpshooter Duncan Robinson did not play in Monday’s Game 1 was evidence of the Heat’s multitude of options, Rivers said.
“We’re not as deep as they are,” Rivers said. “We [knew] that coming in. That’s fine. But the guys we have on the floor can play with anybody.”
The Heat’s bench outscored the Sixers’ 42-21 in Game 1.
Rivers weighs on on ‘the code’
A hot-button topic in the NBA over the past 24 hours was Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks’ flagrant 2 foul and ejection after swinging his arm and striking the Golden State Warriors’ Gary Payton II on the side of the head in the opening minutes of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. The blow resulted in Payton fracturing his elbow on a hard fall to the floor.
After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the play “dirty” and said Brooks “broke the code.” When Rivers was asked Wednesday night about the sport’s unspoken rules and that specific play, he said “anything from behind is very dangerous” and “I didn’t like seeing that,” but hoped Brooks did not intend to injure Payton.
“Sometimes, I think guys … get carried away,” Rivers said. “I’ve been guilty of that as a player, I’m sure. Don’t go find film, please. It happens. It’s such a reactive game. You have a second to react, you’re chasing a guy down, so plays like that happen. You don’t like them, especially the wind up and the hit.
“It looked bad. It really did, and we don’t need that in our game. But the physicality is never going to leave our game, either. There’s going to be times when a collision happens and someone gets hurt, but no one intended to get hurt, and I’m hoping that’s what we saw last night.”