This is what a talent deficit looks like in the NBA.
It eventually wears you down after relentless grinding of your own.
The Miami Heat again came out full of fight and fury in Saturday's Game 4 of this opening-round playoff series.
And then the Philadelphia 76ers counterpunched.
Philadelphia 76ers 106, Miami Heat 102.
Philadelphia 76ers 3, Miami Heat 1 on the series ledger in this best-of-seven matchup that could be over as soon as Tuesday's Game 5 at Wells Fargo Arena.
"They're good. They're special," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said of the 76ers. "They're a good group and they put the right team together. I've said that multiple times. Ultimately, sometimes the playoffs become too big for certain guys or some guys don't know how to match the intensity of the playoffs, or whatever the case may be. They play that way already. They already play to that intense level."
So even after committing 27 turnovers, the 76ers still had enough to take command of the series.
"I'm shocked that we won this game," said 76ers coach Brett Brown, whose team took advantage of 13-of-25 free-throw shooting from the Heat.
For the Heat, it was similar to their previous fourth-quarter struggles in their losses in this series.
"We all feel that we're this close," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That's what makes this game tough. They made bigger plays than us in the fourth quarter. We played really good basketball through most of the game, but we've had a tough time finishing games against Philadelphia and that's been the issue.
"We didn't get the job done. That's sometimes the way it goes. We did a lot of things well enough to put ourselves in a better position to win. We just didn't do it."
Even with the Heat getting more out of center Hassan Whiteside, again getting contributions from Goran Dragic and Wade, in what could be his final appearance in a Heat uniform at AmericanAirlines Arena, it wasn't enough to offset what the 76ers got from Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and J.J. Redick, on an afternoon the Heat were pummeled 57-43 on the boards.
"We know they're the third seed. We're out there scrapping," Wade said. "This is definitely one of the best series I've played in, best first-round opponent.
"This is the kind of team, they don't let you off the hook."
Simmons closed with the first playoff triple-double by a rookie in 38 years, since Magic Johnson, with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, supported by 24 points from Redick and 14 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots from Embiid.
"They have a chance to be great," Brown said of his young stars Simmons and Embiid.
Wade led the Heat with 25 points, with Dragic scoring 20 and Whiteside finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
"You didn't have to be a mystic to predict what this game was going to look like," Brown said of a contentious game that included a second-quarter scuffle and a total of four technical fouls. "It was always going to be a part of this game's landscape."
As seemingly was another solid finish by the 76ers, which also has been the story of this series.
"There's nothing easy with this Miami Heat team," Brown said.
But there was enough from the 76ers to push them to a near stranglehold in this series.
"We still have a chance," Dragic said. "So we’re not going to go home and feel sorry about it and just come to Philly with the white flag. That’s not us.
"We know what we have to do. We know the path to victory, so that’s really important.”
A 14-0 surge bridging the third and fourth quarters pushed the 76ers to an 87-83 lead, with Simmons already with his triple-double by that stage.
Simmons became just the fourth rookie to register a postseason triple-double, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Jerry Lucas, the fourth 76er to have one in the playoffs.
Later, a James Johnson 3-pointer with 5:06 to play got the Heat within 94-90, with the Heat making it 98-94 later on a Whiteside putback basket.
From there, Justise Winslow got to the line with the Heat down four with 2:37 to play, missing both foul shots, as the Heat fell to 11 of 22 from the foul line.
But a Wade 3-point play with 1:45 left got the Heat back within 100-97. An Embiid turnover followed, as did a Wade basket with 1:13 left that got the Heat within 100-99.
But Simmons again performed his transition mastery, converting a driving dunk for a 102-99 Philadelphia lead with 58.2 seconds to play.
Wade again was true with a jumper with 43 seconds to play, only to have that basket matched by a Redick jumper with 30.1 seconds to play for a 104-101 76ers, leading to the Heat's final timeout.
Wade then got to the line with 17.6 seconds to play, but made only the first of his two free throws, for a 104-102 Heat deficit.
Redick then converted a pair of free throws with 16 seconds to play for 106-102 76ers edge, effectively ending it.
"It's a shame were weren't able to get over the top," Spoelstra said. "Sometimes it can be as simple as missing12 free throws."