– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
PHILADELPHIA — Replace one massively-built, talented, larger-than-life center with another and the Philadelphia 76ers, for at least one night, did not skip a beat.
Boban Marjanovic, immediately a fan favorite in Philadelphia after his acquisition in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, filled the (really big) shoes of the injured Joel Embiid by scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Sixers’ 106-102 victory over he Miami Heat in the first game after the All-Star Break on Thursday.
“I thought, in general, he was very good and he was our bell-ringer tonight,” said Sixers head coach Brett Brown of Marjanovic.
It was announced on Tuesday by the Sixers that Embiid was experiencing left knee soreness and that he would be listed as “out” and be re-evaluated in one week. In to Embiid’s place stepped Marjanovic, and all he did in the first quarter was make every shot — all four of his field goal attempts and all three of his free throws — in racking up 11 points and seven rebounds in the game’s first 12 minutes.
The main piece who came over to Philadelphia in that trade with the Clippers, forward Tobias Harris, scored 11 of his fourth-quarter points, including the first seven points of a 15-4 run that erased a five-point Miami lead with eight minutes remaining.
The main piece who came over to Philadelphia in that trade with the Clippers, forward Tobias Harris, scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, including the first seven points of a 15-4 run that erased a five-point Miami lead with eight minutes remaining.
“It’s always great to maintain and get a [win] when Jo is not out there on the floor,” said Sixers forward Jimmy Butler, who had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists. “It’s a little bit different, it’s a little bit more difficult, but as long as you got guys out there that hoop and play hard, we’ll figure it out.”
Playing in his final regular-season game in Philadelphia, Dwyane Wade came off the bench to lead the Heat with 19 points in 31 minutes of action. Miami was playing once again without Goran Dragic, who was questionable for the game as he returns from knee surgery that has kept him sidelined for the better part of two months.
“We did everything we could. I love the way we played, that mentality, that aggression, that focus, if we can play that way on out we can give ourselves a chance,” Wade said. “We can always point at things to do better, but in a game like this, that kind of team on the road, we played great.”
Continuing the tributes that many teams have produced upon Wade’s last game at an arena, the Sixers played a video narrated by Allen Iverson in tribute to Wade’s career.
“To take myself out of the moment and to think about 20 some odd years later, Allen Iverson’s voice would be the one dedicating something to me in his area, his city, I couldn’t have written it any sweeter, any better,” Wade said. “I’m so appreciative of obviously every organization that does something like that because they don’t have to.”
“He’s one of the two reasons I wear No. 3,” Wade continued. “Every time I see him, it’s all love and I appreciate that and I try to rep that No. 3 to the fullest. So I hope I made him proud.”