As the Sixers take their talents to South Beach, challenges await
The Sixers have officially found themselves in a vulnerable position. Instead of taking a 2-0 series lead into Miami on Thursday, the Sixers' offense faltered on Monday night, allowing the Heat to leave Philadelphia with a 113-103 victory, tying the series up at 1-1.
Now, the Sixers hit the road to Miami for the next two games, possibly without Joel Embiid, with the possibility of falling to 3-1 on the road to a No. 6 seed.
The Sixers were winners of 17 straight games before falling on Monday night, losing their chance of making life a little more easier down the road at home before going on the road for two games.
No team is ever safe when going on the road, especially when a team's fans aren't there in majority for support. The Sixers hope that whatever support they have in Philly can follow them to Miami for Thursday and Saturday's games.
Quite simply, the Heat have had the Sixers' number at home all season long. The two teams split the season series, with the Sixers coming out on top twice, both in Philly, and the Heat twice, both in Miami.
To put things in perspective, the Heat haven't lost to the Sixers at home since December 23, 2014. It's been four years since the Sixers got the best of the Heat on the road.
For many reasons, this stat is a little flawed, considering the team the Sixers have been during those four years is a little more in depth than just a weakness on the road.
But the Heat go into Thursday night's game 4 thinking of all the times they have been able to defend their home court against the Sixers and how much they've been successful at doing so.
The Sixers have been world beaters this season, especially in the second half of the year of beating teams that have haunted their nights over the last five seasons.
Seven straight losses in beautiful South Beach isn't something that's exactly weighing on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in this present moment, but it's something that can be taken into account.
Even if the Sixers' resume can be ruled out in being the reason why they've been so successful at American Airlines Arena, the Heat are still extremely lethal on their home floor.
While all teams have an advantage at home, the Heat had the 14th best home record in the NBA this season, and it was still at 26-15. Last season was an off season for Miami, missing the playoffs, but in 2015-16, the Heat were 28-13 at home.
The Sixers just have two games before they head back to the Wells Fargo Center, but if they aren't careful, the Heat can be one of those sneaky home teams to knock you off before you even have a chance to swim.
It's not even like the last two home games for the Heat against Philadelphia were blowouts. They were both extremely close games that saw leads change late. The Heat beat the Sixers on March 8, 108-99, and on February 27, the Heat had another turn-back-the-clock game from Dwyane Wade with a game-winning jumper with five seconds left to seal the deal.
In some ways, losing at home the game before hitting the road to silence the home fans is an advantage. The Sixers are playing with a chip on their shoulders, aiming to reiterate that they're by far the better team, and Game 2 was just a fluke.
The Sixers know they dropped a game on Monday night that they were supposed to win handily. Now, they are en route to attempt to win another game in which they know the story hasn't changed. The scenery might have change for a little while, but the expectations sure haven't.
The playoff slogan "Phila Unite" is one that is universal wherever the Sixers go, not just in Philadelphia. The Sixers, along with their loyal fans, stand united in every circumstance, even on their opponents' battlefield.
Winning on the road is tough, especially in the NBA, but there hasn't been a challenge that has exceeded what the Philadelphia 76ers are capable of this season. Whether it be a gameplan adjustment from Brett Brown, or players off the bench that have to step up that wouldn't normally. The Sixers have all the tools in their box to get the job done in Miami and cut the head off the snake next Tuesday.
The streak may be over, but it's never too late to start a new one.
Josh Liddick is a contributor to 97.3 ESPN and Sixers managing editor at SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshLiddickTalk.