The Heat Thumped The Joel Embiid-less Sixers In A Breezy Game 1 Victory

After a five-game win over the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, the Miami Heat enjoyed a lengthy break before opening a second round series against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday evening. In between Miami’s close-out win over Atlanta and Game 1 on Monday, the 76ers lost Joel Embiid for at least part of the series, leaving the Heat in a more commanding position on paper, and Miami responded with a strong performance in the opener on the way to a 106-92 victory at home.

The Heat set the tone in a hurry, scoring 18 points on the first nine possessions of the game. That gave Miami an 18-6 lead, with the home team making eight of its first eleven shots with no turnovers.

Though Philadelphia stumbled out of the gate behind a lineup with DeAndre Jordan at center, the Sixers did find their footing late in the first quarter. James Harden and a bench-heavy unit found success with a zone defense, and the visitors scored 11 consecutive points to climb back into the game.

Miami pushed its lead back to as many as 13 points early in the second quarter, but Philadelphia chipped away. The Sixers received five quick points from James Harden and that slashed the lead in half to 46-41.

Miami scored only two points in nearly five minutes to end the first half, opening the door for Philadelphia. In fact, the Sixers took their first lead of the entire game with 28 seconds left in the second quarter and kept a one-point margin by halftime.

Neither team shot well in the first half, combining for 7-of-33 from three-point range, but Miami was able to locate its offense before Philadelphia could in the second half. Bam Adebayo solidified Miami’s attack in the third quarter, keying a 10-0 run that gave the Heat a lead they would never relinquish.

The Heat didn’t run away and hide immediately, leading by eight points at the end of the third quarter, but Miami put things away in the fourth quarter. With haste, the Heat built a 13-point lead after a three-pointer by Tyler Herro.

Philadelphia never again climbed within single-digits in the game, as Miami began the closing period with an 18-5 overall run that included 11 consecutive points. When the dust settled, the Heat led by 98-77 with less than six minutes to go and that, for all intents and purposes, ended the suspense.

Though the Heat did not shoot particularly well at 44 percent from the field and 9-of-25 from three-point range, Miami was able to sustain efficient offense using the glass and a win in the turnover battle. The Heat secured 15 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second-chance points, and Miami was able to take care of the ball with only 13 turnovers. Individually, Herro was electric with 25 points and seven assists, with Adebayo adding 24 points and 12 rebounds.

On the Philadelphia side, there was no antidote for poor three-point shooting. Sans Embiid, the 76ers were able to create 34 three-point attempts, but Philadelphia connected on only six triples. From there, they lost on the margins, and Harden finished with only 16 points on 15 shooting possessions. Tobias Harris was a bright spot with 27 points and six rebounds, but Philadelphia scored less than a point per possession during the competitive portion of the game, and they must be better on offense.

Game 2 is set for Wednesday at FTX Arena, with the Sixers aiming to secure the road split that every underdog seeks in a best-of-seven series. However, Philadelphia will again operate without Embiid, and the performance of both teams in Game 1 doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence for the challengers to pull an upset just 48 hours later.