The Heat Eliminated The 76ers And Reached The Eastern Conference Finals With A Game 6 Road Win

On the heels of two home victories to even the series at 2-2, the Philadelphia 76ers fell flat in Game 5, losing by a 35-point margin against the Miami Heat. That flop set up a situation in which the 76ers needed a Game 6 home win to avoid elimination but, after a competitive first half, things flew off the rails for Philadelphia. With the help of a huge third quarter run, the Heat secured a 99-90 victory, sending Philadelphia to elimination and Miami to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat picked up where they left off in Game 5, scoring on the first three possessions of the game. That gave Miami a quick 7-0 lead and immediately put even more pressure on Philadelphia at home.

Philadelphia did quickly recover, using an 11-2 run to take the lead. Unfortunately, the 76ers suffered a significant loss during that run, with veteran wing Danny Green carried to the locker room and ruled out for the rest of the game with a knee injury.

The Heat used an 8-0 run late in the quarter to build an eight-point edge, but the 76ers managed to cut the deficit back to three after 12 minutes. Philadelphia won the possession battle in the opening period, thanks in large part to Miami’s six turnovers, but the 76ers didn’t fully capitalize with shaky shooting.

In the second quarter, the 76ers actually took a three-point lead, but Miami managed to get into the locker room with a one-point lead at halftime. Neither Jimmy Butler (3-of-10 from the floor) or Joel Embiid (5-of-14 from the floor) found a great deal of efficiency and success, but Miami’s Max Strus led all scorers with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 3-of-5 from three-point distance.

If anything, it felt fortunate for Philadelphia to be within one after a half in which the 76ers shot just 40 percent with 10 assists. That positive fortune did not continue to open the second half, with the Heat taking control. Miami used a 19-4 run, including 12 points from Butler, to open a double-digit lead for the first time at 68-52.

It was a struggle for the 76ers on both ends of the floor, with Butler and company getting loose and the offense cratering. Philadelphia scored only four points in almost eight minutes, beginning the third quarter by missing 13 of their first 15 shots.

Reserve guard Shake Milton did attempt to bring the 76ers out of the wilderness, scoring seven points in a two-minute period to help Philadelphia climb back within 11 at the end of the third quarter. Still, it was the lowest-scoring quarter (15 points) of the series for the 76ers, leaving an uphill battle with the season on the line.

Just moments into the fourth quarter, the task went from difficult to virtually impossible for Philadelphia. Miami scored eight points in the first two minutes of the closing period, capitalizing on a couple of Philadelphia turnovers to take a 19-point lead.

From there, the 76ers never trimmed the deficit to fewer than 11 points until the final minute, and it was a highly disappointing performance from the home team on the whole. Aside from a strong second half from Milton, visible effort from Maxey, and an admirable performance from Embiid playing through injury, it was difficult to find overwhelming positives for Philadelphia. Their lack of effort given the circumstances was notable, even for those on the other side as Jimmy Butler couldn’t believe an offensive rebound he got off a miss that turned into the dagger from the corner.

Of note, Harden took only nine shots (and no free throws) in the game, including only two attempts in the second half, and he was generally a non-factor in the proceedings. That leads to an ever-interesting discussion about his future in Philadelphia and, if nothing else, Harden adds to a troubling list of flummoxing playoff performances.

As a team, the 76ers were simply unable to generate efficient offense with Embiid scuffling and Harden operating in relatively invisible fashion. Philadelphia scored less than a point per possession in the game, shooting 41 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three-point range with only seven free throw attempts.

Miami’s offense did not light the world on fire in Game 6, especially when it came to 7-of-28 shooting from three-point range. Still, the Heat were strong from two-point range, and Miami received standout performances from Butler (32 points, eight rebounds) and Strus (20 points, 11 rebounds) to go along with stingy and effective defense.

The Heat will now await the winner of the ongoing series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics, with the Bucks holding a 3-2 lead in advance of Game 6 on Friday. Miami will have home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals as the No. 1 seed and, even if Milwaukee is able to close things out on the other side of the bracket, the Heat will have a one-day rest advantage to boot.