Ben Simmons did something no rookie has done in nearly 40 years, and the Philadelphia 76ers are a win away from advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the first time in six years.
Simmons became the first rookie to record a triple-double in a playoff game since 1980 as the 76ers survived a late flurry by the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade to win Game 4 106-101 and take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
The Heat tried to sprint away from the Sixers in the third quarter, but Philly clawed back and took the lead early in the fourth. Wade, who spurred Miami on to a Game 2 win, didn’t wilt and scored eight straight points for the Heat late in the fourth to pull the game within a single point twice.
But J.J. Redick ended the Heat’s chances of a win. His two put the Sixers up 104-101 with 30 seconds left and grabbed a rebound off a missed Wade free throw with 16 seconds left. Redick’s two ensuing free throws put the game out of reach.
It’s not a coincidence that Philadelphia’s fourth-quarter surge coincided with the team’s lack of turnovers. The Sixers entered the quarter with 24 turnovers in the first three periods but committed just three in the fourth while scoring 27 points to Miami’s 19.
Magic Johnson was the last player to record a triple-double as a rookie in the NBA playoffs when he had 25 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists as the Lakers beat the Suns on April 9, 1980. Saturday, Simmons went for 17 points, grabbed 12 boards and dished 10 assists.
Wade finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-22 shooting. Redick led the 76ers with 24 points. Joel Embiid was just 2-11 from the field in his second game back for the Sixers but finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds thanks to a 10-14 performance from the free throw line.
A collision with Embiid sent the Heat’s Josh Richardson to the locker room in the second half with a left shoulder injury. The two players were diving on the floor for the basketball, which Embiid corralled before turning over.
Sources told Yahoo Sports after the game that Richardson suffered a sprained AC joint, but plans to play in Tuesday’s Game 5.
Sources: Miami guard Josh Richardson has suffered a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, but plans to play in Game 5 on Tuesday. Richardson has been one of NBA's top defensive players.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 21, 2018
The Heat’s Goran Dragic sprinted down the court with the ball and was fouled by Simmons before making contact with Robert Covington as he continued to the basket. The Heat’s James Johnson took umbrage with the play and got in Simmons’ face. The two players had to be pulled apart by multiple coaches and teammates.
Johnson and Covington were assessed technical fouls during the altercation. The Heat’s Justise Winslow also had to leave the game after the play and get stitches above his left eyebrow. Winslow suffered the cut in the scrum with Embiid, Richardson and others on the floor.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Philadelphia. If the Sixers win it’ll be the first time the team advanced to the second round since 2012 when they lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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