Again With the Heat: Our Miniscule Chances of Going One for Four

Again With the Heat: Our Miniscule Chances of Going One for Four

Update: The Heat will be without D. Wade this evening.

You know what the most insulting part of the Heat's recent ownage of the
Sixers is? The Heat didn't even have the decency to beat the Celtics
last Sunday, getting creamed by the C's in Boston. Not only do they
insist on beating the Sixers every time the teams play, but when it
comes time for them to face one of the teams the Sixers need to drop a
couple for playoff-seeding purposes, they all of a sudden turn into a
middling squad imminently capable of losing games. Why does Miami insist
on torturing us so?

Somehow, we got matched up with this team four times this year—more
than we face off against several of our actual Atlantic Division
rivals—and tonight Miami goes for the four-game series sweep. It's hard
to tell what it is about this team that vexes Philly so that they can't
even seem to take advantage of the Heat while they're in a phone-it-in
stretch—bad matchups with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade? Lack of toughness
down low against Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony? LeBron James just being
that insultingly good? It's been infuriating for years now, and it
doesn't appear to be getting any less so anytime soon.

The good news is this: Even if we are chalking up the Miami game as
an automatic L, it's the last borderline-unwinnable game the Sixers play
this year. After this, the hardest games the Sixers play in their final
13 are two matchups each against the Pacers and Magic, both of whom
Philly has proven every bit capable of beating. No more Heat, no more
Bulls, no Spurs or Thunder or anyone else whose three-letter code on the
schedule sends chills down your spine. In addition, Philly gets two
games the lowly Raptors and three against the Nets, as well as one more
each against the lottery-bound Cavs and Pistons...the Sixers could
realistically finish the season on a 9-4 or 10-3 tear. (Or they could
fall apart and end up at .500 once more, and you may never hear from me

The other good news: We're getting something dangerously close to
"consistency" from Evan Turner of late. Here's ET's last four games from
the field: 10 points on 5-11 shooting, 12 points on 6-13, 11 on 5-7, 13
on 6-13. It's not as exciting as when he was tearing off 20/10-type
games in early March, but it's almost as encouraging—after endlessly
oscillating between Good and Bad Evan Turner, we appear to have settled
in a much more sustainable middle for the time being. Throw in the good
rebounding and ball-handling (he's only turned the ball over once in the
last three, with nine combined assists), and Evan has been one of the
team's most reliable producers the last week or so. We'll need him to do
a little more if the team's gonna have a shot in the playoffs, but for
now, we'll take the stability.

7:30 tip form American Airlines Arena. Do the Sixers stand a chance
of taking this one? I wish I could come up with some new advantage the
Sixers have, but aside from the fact that the Heat have been kind of
crummy on the road recently, there's not much to portend Sixers success
tonight. Still, if Philly can get blown out by the Wizards, clearly
anything is possible, and maybe Evan and Spencer Hawes were inspired by
their WWE experience
last night or something. Just pray that the matchups don't fall as such
that we have to do this four more times after the season wraps.

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).