After losing game’s 3 & 4, the Miami Heat returned back home for Game 5 on Tuesday night and seemed like the only team that showed up. As they took apart the Philadelphia Sixers 120-85, and moved within one win from the Eastern Conference Finals. This win keeps Miami perfect on their home floor in this postseason.
Teams that win Game 5 in a best of seven series tied 2-2 go on to win the series 82% of the time.
This 35-pt win for Miami is tied for their 2nd largest postseason victory in franchise history. They used a 60-41 second half route to blow the game open and never looked back. A 12-0 run to start the 4th quarter after leading by 15 (81-66) had Sixers coach Doc Rivers throw the white towel taking out all his starters with 8 minutes remaining.
Miami was led again by their All-Star Jimmy Butler who didn’t get much contributions from his teammates in the past two games in Philadelphia, had 23 points and six assist after averaging 36.5 ppg over the past two games. The other four starters all scored in double-figures joining Butler.
The other four starters combined for 56 points, after only averaging 31 points on the road in Philly in two games.
Shooter Max Strus had his first double-double in this postseason with 19 points (11 in the 1st quarter) and 10 rebounds(the only player with double-digit). Gabe Vincent who got his 5th start of this postseason filling in for the injured Kyle Lowry (who missed the game because of hamstring tightness) has done a solid job filling in for Lowry with 15 points. Bam Adebayo and PJ Tucker combined for 22 points.
Sixth Man Tyler Herro, had 10 points but started the game slow. He didn’t have a field goal in the first half and didn’t score his first field goal until two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Victor Oladipo chipped in with 13 points off the bench.
They dominated the points in the paint outscoring the Sixers 56-36 and they were a +12 from 3-pt. “It’s just one game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They know it. We know it.”
“Each game is different,” Butler said about the teams mindset going into Game 6. “Like I told the team, we just did what we were supposed to do. Now we’re supposed to go win one on the road and do the hard job, and I think were are capable of it.”
Sixers superstar Joel Embiid some say might have come into this game not “himself.” Not because of the torn ligament in his right thumb or the mask he’s had to wear since being hit in the face in the first round against the Toronto Raptors in their closeout Game 6, but because the MVP decision was made and it wasn’t his to take home.
Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic won the award for the second straight season.
He finished with just 17 points (team-high) but only attempted 12 field goals and just four rebounds, after averaging 21 ppg and 11 reb/gm in Game’s 3 & 4. It also didn’t help that he was hit in the face where he had the orbital fracture midway through the second quarter that he said was “pretty painful.” It seemed his teammates fed off his lax energy and effort, and didn’t put up much of a fight. His teammates that he needed to show up James Harden and Tyrese Maxey also struggled.
“Tonight we weren’t focused enough and we didn’t play hard,” Embiid said. “We didn’t follow the gameplan and it was just easy for them offensively. We just have to be locked in and play like we did in the past two games.”
No player scored more than 20 points.
Harden, who is coming off a big 31-pt performance (16 in 4th) in Game 4 which helped propel the Sixers to a Game 4 victory finished with his lowest scoring output of this series with only 14 points. He had just as many turnovers (4) as assist. “It’s supposed to be a playoff game and the physicality should be on both ends,” Harden said. “I don’t feel tonight it was, they were physical and we missed shots.”
Tobias Harris scored 12 points and Maxey had his worst game in this postseason with only nine points. Miami did not allow Maxey to be a one man fastbreak as he had been in the previous four games.
“Our energy and when were physical and connected as a group, that’s when we are at our best,” Harris said.
Philadelphia had nine of their 15 turnovers in the second quarter that ultimately led to all of Miami’s fastbreak points (15). Head coach Doc Rivers said in a 2nd quarter timeout, “They are playing harder than us.”
This is the Sixers sixth loss in Game 5 with the series tied at 2 in their franchise history.
“They were just more physical,” Rivers said. “We didn’t run anything. We didn’t run our stuff very well. We played at a snail’s pace … everything they did tonight was harder and better. Their stuff was better, their energy was better.”
The Sixers Embiid and Harden have to play well in Game 6, if they want to come back to Miami for a deciding Game 7.
Next Game: Game 6 Thursday in Philadelphia.
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