MIAMI — The Philadelphia 76ers headed back to South Beach on Tuesday looking to take control of this series with the Miami Heat. After two terrific games up in Philadelphia to tie the series, the Sixers could not replicate it to start Game 5 as they found themselves in an 18-point deficit in the first half.
The Sixers did chip away at the deficit and stay in the game despite how poorly they played from the jump. They cut the lead to 10 early in the third quarter, but the Heat then jumped all over the Sixers after that as they played with much more purpose and they were aggressive on their way to a 120-85 victory. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists as the Heat now have the Sixers on the brink.
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Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 17 points and five rebounds, James Harden had 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists, Tobias Harris had 12 points, and Tirese Maxey had nine. Shake Milton had nine and Danny Green also added six points on the night.
Here are the player grades following the loss:
With the big fella off to a somewhat slow start with his offense, Harden picked up the slack with some aggressive moves in the half-court and attacking downhill. That caused Miami to have to change things up on the defensive end and have to focus more attention on him and that opened things up for the others on offense. When nobody else could get going, Harden tried to carry the Sixers on the offensive end, but it just wasn’t enough on this night. The offense as a whole just did not have any rhythm and they couldn’t get any positives going.
Give Maxey a ton of credit for his defensive improvement. He did a terrific job of chasing Max Strus off screens and not giving him any clean looks. However, once Strus got hot off open 3-pointers in transition, that then allowed him to get into a rhythm on offense. Maxey also had a tough start on offense with a couple of weird plays that one doesn’t see from him. He couldn’t have picked a worse night to have his worst game of the playoffs.
As excellent as Green looked in Games 3 and 4 of this series, he had a tough start to this one. He missed a good look from deep and he dribbled himself into a bad turnover in the first quarter. Once he remembered who he is, he was much better with his 3-point shots off the catch. It was also a tough night on the defensive end for him.
Philadelphia needed somebody to help Harden on the offensive end and Harris provided a big effort to start. He knocked down a couple of triples off the catch and he aggressively attacked a Strus closeout for an easy dunk. Other than his looks from deep, he had a tough time knocking down any shots. The Heat played with much more ferocity in this one as their defensive intensity was turned up and Philadelphia had a hard time matching any of it.
After not winning MVP, it looked like the big fella wanted to make a statement early. He was really aggressive when using his size against Bam Adebayo. There were times when he was great when forcing things on offense, but then there were other times where he would try and do too much and he would turn the ball over. He did take a beating in this one. He looked like he tweaked his back when diving for a loose ball early and then he got smacked in the face by Dewayne Dedmon around the same area where he has the facial fracture. Once he decided to get going on the offensive end, Miami was already ahead by 20 in the third quarter so there wasn’t much he could do. He contributed to this loss with some lazy efforts on the glass and just plain confusion.
This looked a little similar to the first two games of this series when Niang couldn’t buy a 3-pointer. He had a lot of wide-open looks in this game that he could not capitalize on and he also had a tough time on defense and on the glass.
Thybulle entered the contest and he picked up a foul while playing aggressive defense which limited his effectiveness a bit. He was pretty much invisible on this night.
This was a game where Reed was a little wild. He had a few nice rebounds and hustle plays, including one that led to a 3-point play, but there were also a few bad turnovers mixed with his usual fouls. Overall, a regular Bball Paul game.
When Milton is locked and loaded and not thinking about it, he is a very good player on the offensive end. His first basket was a wide-open triple off the catch and that is a shot he has to take every time. On his next chance, he turned down the open 3 and dribbled into an offensive foul.