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The Heat Took A Commanding 2-0 Series Lead Over The Sixers With Another Comfortable Home Win

The Philadelphia 76ers faced an uphill battle in the first two games of their second round series in Miami, as they had to take on the top-seeded Heat without the services of Joel Embiid. The MVP candidate is back in Philly recovering from an orbital fracture and concussion, and while the Sixers haven’t ruled out a return this series, he’s still waiting to clear protocols and his status remains unknown.

After a dreadful offensive performance in Game 1, the Sixers found some sparks in Game 2, headlined by the play of Tyrese Maxey (34 points) and continued solid production from Tobias Harris (21 points), but as was the case in the opener, they simply could not keep up with the Heat from the three-point line and, ultimately, that led to a blowout victory for the Heat. For the night, the Heat knocked down 14 of their 29 three-point attempts, as Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo, and Max Strus all poured in three from beyond the arc, compared to another dreadful 8-for-30 night from the Sixers from distance.

Early on, the two teams traded blows, with the Heat eventually taking control late in the first quarter as Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo took advantage of the Embiid-less Sixers defense inside.

Miami would open up that advantage early in the second quarter, as Tyler Herro came in and immediately heated up on his way to an 18-point outing off the bench, and it looked like a blowout might be in order once again.

To Philly’s credit, they hung in and took the early punches from the Heat, with James Harden starting to find his rhythm late in the second quarter to pull the Sixers back to within eight at the half.

The third quarter saw Butler and Tyrese Maxey trade blows, as every Miami run was answered by the Sixers, and vice versa as the game held at a 6-13 point Heat advantage for the majority of the quarter.

That trend would continue in the fourth quarter, as Maxey continued to try his best to carry the Sixers offense, aided by some timely Harris shots, but Philly could never get close enough to really make things interesting.

Ultimately, the Heat pulled away as Adebayo and Butler continued to make plays and Victor Oladipo (19 points off the bench) offered them a very welcome boost, with Spoelstra rolling with the veteran in the second half over Gabe Vincent.

It was the kind of game where the Sixers never felt out of it, but never felt like a threat to win, which probably shouldn’t be that surprising given the absence of Embiid. As was the case in Game 1, they couldn’t complete enough defensive possessions — which is to say, even when they got stops they struggled to get the defensive rebound — to go on an extended run to cut the lead to a single possession. They’ll hope their MVP returns in Game 3, but that’s not a guarantee, and this series could get late early if he’s unable to go when the series shifts back to Philadelphia.

On Miami’s side, it’s their depth that continues to shine as they play without a star of their own in Kyle Lowry. Oladipo’s revival since Game 4 of the Atlanta series has given Spo a greater variety of looks to throw at teams even without Lowry, even as Duncan Robinson remains tethered to the bench in a series where Miami clearly wants a defense-first mindset. Philadelphia’s “others” have yet to match the play of Miami’s bench and that’s a recipe for disaster when you’re without your top star. Even if Embiid comes back, they’re going to need someone to step up and hit shots from the perimeter to have any chance of getting into this series.

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