Sixers Fail to Clinch Top Seed Again in Bad Loss to Heat, 106-94.
After Tuesday’s disappointing loss to the Pacers, the Sixers got another shot to clinch the top seed in the East against the Heat down in Miami. Philly was missing a ton of key players against Indiana, but this matchup saw many of them return to the lineup. The best news was to see Joel Embiid cleared to play after sitting out the Pacers game with a non-COVID related illness. The bench also got some guys back, with both Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz re-inserted back into the lineup.
The Sixers started the game off cold, and Jimmy Butler got to work fast coming back from injury. Butler started the game with 16 points, nailing all five of his shots from the field. On the other end most of the starters didn’t look too good to begin the game, but Tobias Harris ended the first quarter with 10 points. The Heat couldn’t miss in the first half as a team, shooting 67 percent from the field to propel them to a 16 point first-quarter lead.
The second quarter didn’t get any easier for the Sixers, as they continued to struggle from the floor while the Heat stayed hot. The Sixers couldn’t hit a shot to start the second, nailing just one shot in the opening five minutes of the quarter. The Heat second unit came out and picked off right where Butler left off, especially Tyler Herro who decided to revert back to his 2020 form nailing two threes right off the bat. He’d finish the half with 14 points, with 12 of them coming from beyond. Miami ended the half shooting 50 percent from three, knocking eight down in the first half. Joel Embiid would have one of his worst first halves of the season, finishing with just 4 points as the Heat would push their lead to 19, up 60-41.
The second half saw some slight improvements on offense from the Sixers. Danny Green began to knock down some shots after a quiet first half. He’d hit a pair of threes early to give him nine points. Unfortunately for the Sixers the Heat continued knocking down shots, this time coming from Bam Adebayo who had 16 points mid-way through the third. Miami just couldn’t miss a three in this quarter as well, converting 45 percent of their threes through three quarters. With just thirteen points from the Sixers second unit, Philly’s deficit grew through three, down 89-67 going into the fourth quarter.
The start to the fourth saw much of the same, the second unit struggling on the offensive end, this time with Dwight Howard continuing to force technical fouls out of the Heat. If there were any positive takeaways from this game other than Tobias Harris’ game, it would be Dwight Howard’s ability to get under the skin of multiple Miami players. Despite the bench struggles, Shake Milton did have a nice game coming back from injury. Milton finished with 10 points and shot 7 times from the stripe. What is probably most disappointing about the night was Doc Rivers decision to not bring the starters back in for the entire fourth quarter, admitting defeat through three. In one of the worst losses of the night Joel Embiid finishes with a season low eight points, Ben Simmons finishes with just eight. The Sixers as a team only hit five threes the entire night, and get blown out 106-94 by the Heat.
To close the season the Sixers will head back home for a two game stint against Orlando beginning tomorrow night. Philly still needs just one win to clinch home-court advantage until the NBA Finals.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY