It was such a night for Heat, who – even without rubbing everyone on the shoulder – still feels pretty good in terms of his playoff prospects.
The 35-point win difference was the biggest so far in this year’s playoffs – Philadelphia beat Toronto 35 in the clincher series of that duel in the first round – and was the second-largest in Heat’s postseason history.
“They were just more physical,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “We didn’t run anything. We didn’t run our stuff well. We played at a snail’s pace … everything they did tonight was harder and better. Their stuff was better, their energy better.”
Victor Oladipo he scored 13 for Miami, who got 12 from Bam Adebayo and 10 per piece of Tyler Herro and PJ Tucker. The best holders of the Heat now lead in the semifinal series of the East with 3-2, and in this playoff at home they improved to 6-0 the best in the NBA league.
Joel Embiid scored 17 points for fourth-seeded Philadelphia, who received 14 from James Harden and 12 from Tobias Harris. The 76ers fell 15 in the fourth quarter and then gave up 12 consecutive points to open the period.
“We weren’t focused enough tonight,” Embiid said.
The sixth game is Thursday in Philadelphia, the 76ers will win or not, and it’s an opportunity to move on for the Heat.
“We’re capable of that if we stop a few,” Butler said. “It’s a tough place to play.”
So is Miami.
Tyrese Maxey made a deep three-pointer with 1.5 seconds to finish in the third and pulled Philadelphia within 81-66. Whatever hope remained for the 76ers at the time was short-lived.
Herro’s jumper, and then five consecutive points of Strus, were the beginning of Miami’s rush that opened the fourth. Adebay’s three-point game increased the lead to 25, and at that point Embiid checked out, and the result is clearly no longer in question.
“It’s just one game,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “They know it. We know it.”
It was a tough night for the Sixers, especially for Embiid – their best player, who already wore a face protection mask and dealt with a significant thumb injury.
Embiid shook in the first quarter when he tried to dive into some basic places as he tried to save a lost ball. Not long after, he turned around, grabbing his back.
He stayed in the game after that fear.
He stayed in the game even after the next fear, which was much worse.
It came in the middle of the second quarter, when Miami Dewayne Dedmon missed a shot and Embiid grabbed the rebound. Dedmon, flailing the ball, made contact with her — and ended up pushing it back into Embiid’s mask-covered face.
“Pretty painful,” Embiid said.
Embiid lost the ball and went down in obvious discomfort, covering his face with both hands. Oladipo picked up the ball and scored at 42-31, but Embiid’s rewind was much more important for the 76ers than conceding two points. Embiid stayed down for a few moments, before returning to the Philadelphia bench and receiving medical treatment.
“It’s tough,” Rivers said. “I think he knew there was going to be all this a few times when he was punched in the face. It’s going to happen … He got up and said he was fine, after a while.”
All the most interesting part of the second half belonged to Miami, with the exception of one moment that was stolen by an ordinary DJ Khaled.
After the ball went off the field near his seat, Khaled grabbed the ball from the security guard, handed it to Strus, then headed for the scoreboard waving his arms and asking the fans to make some noise. And before returning to his place on the field, rapper Spoelstri massaged his shoulders.
“I was humbled to be a part of that moment,” Spoelstra said. “He’s such a big fan there. Over the years, I’ve said goodbye a few times, but it was the best interaction. That was honest. It was cool.”
76ers: None of the Philadelphia starters played in the final 8:18. … Maxey, who was great for most of this series, shot 2 for 10. … Georges Niang he was 0 for 5, all those shots from the 3-point range, reminiscent of his static 0-for-7 line – all in 3s – in game 1.
Heat: After hitting 14 to 65 on Tuesday from a 3-point range in two defeats in Philadelphia (21.5%), Heat hit 13 to 33 from a depth of 39 (39.4%) on Tuesday. … Miami improved to 18-4 all the time in a 5s game at home. … The Heat beat Philadelphia 46-36. … Miami is one of two unbeaten teams at home in this playoff. Golden State has 5-0.
All the while in the series of the top seven, by entering this round, the teams that won the first game of the match ultimately prevail in 75.6% of the time. Game 1 wins at home, 85% of the time. The teams start the series with a 2-0 lead, 92.4% of the time. And the teams that win Game 5 for the 3-2 series lead the way in 82.2% of the time. All of these statistics obviously go in Miami’s favor.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the game, sitting with Ahmad Rashad – whose ties to the league go back decades, primarily because of his years as host and executive producer of “NBA Inside Stuff”. Also in the audience: NBA Champion Mike Miller Heat and longtime baseball star, Miami-born and Minnesota Timberwolves co-owner Alex Rodriguez.
The sixth game is played Thursday in Philadelphia.