The Miami Heat have taken full advantage of their first two games against the Philadelphia Sixers without its best player and front-runner for MVP Joel Embiid at home. They took a 2-0 series lead after a 119-103 victory in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Without their point guard Kyle Lowry who has missed his fourth straight game, they used a collective effort to hold off a resilient Sixers team.
They were led by their two leaders Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Adebayo coming off a double-double in Game 1 (24 pts,12 reb) had a team-high 23 points (9-11 FT) to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. Butler had the only double-double of the game with 22 points and 12 assist. “It’s always nice to win,” Butler said. “We just did what we’re supposed to do at home.”
The difference once again was the bench contributions.
Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, who has been instant offense all year off the bench for head coach Erik Spoelstra, has outscored the entire Sixers bench by himself 43-39 in these first two games. He had 18 points (16 in 1st half) and made three from deep. Victor Oladipo who turned 33 years-old has come into his own since being activated late in the season, had 19 points and also made three from deep.
They Heat were a +10 in rebounding (44-34) and a +8 in assist (25-17).
“It’s not easy to get playoff wins.” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We had some great stretches, particularly defensively. We had some really good stretches offensively. Our defense really carried us to the win, but we had some really timely offensive plays.”
The Sixers may have been missing their Superstar in Embiid, but they have a young talent that has shown flashes of stardom.
Their 21 year-old point guard Tyrese Maxey.
He has really grown up in these playoffs in front of everyone’s eyes. He’s playing like a young player that belongs on this stage. He finished with a game-high 34 points (12-22 FG), made 9-11 from the free throw line and didn’t turn the ball over. He scored 13 straight points as one time in the 3rd quarter.
Tobias Harris had 21 points and also had four steals. All-Star James Harden, who had just 16 points in Game 1, needed an All-Star performance to help give his team a chance without their big man (Embiid). He didn’t have the game that we as fans would have expected. He had 20 points and nine assist but 16 of the points came in the first half. It’s his second straight game with only four points in the second half, after double figures scoring the first half.
“When it comes down to it, you’ve got to make shots, especially when you’re on the road against a really good team,” Harden said. “It’s pretty simple.”
That’s not enough for the Sixers to beat the No.1 seed Heat on the road. He knows he has to be better in Philadelphia.
Only 19 points from the bench and 8-30 from the 3-pt line as a team.
“We don’t have a big man right now” They are hoping to welcome back Embiid in Game 3 on Friday night. “He’s got so many steps to go through,” Rivers said. “I don’t think he’s cleared any of them right now.”
This is the second straight game all five starters for Philadelphia have had negatives in the +/- category.
Butler, who was once a Sixer in 2018-2019 said about the atmosphere in Philadelphia, “It’s going to be crazy. They have some of the best fans in the league, but we have a job to do”
Game 3: Friday Night in Philadelphia .
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