Joel Embiid was unstoppable down the stretch and the Miami Heat couldn’t answer offensively in a disappointing 109-98 loss to the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night that snapped their seven game home win streak.
Omer Yurtseven led the Heat with 22 points and 11 rebounds for his 14th consecutive double-double game in yet another impressive performance. The big man is making the case for regular minutes once the team gets fully healthy — or as close to it as possible in the second half of the regular season. He was a force to be reckoned with early in the game, quickly racking up 10 points and five rebounds in the first seven minutes alone.
BIG MAN GOING OFF— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 16, 2022
Yurtseven has 10 points & 5 rebounds in 7 minutes of play pic.twitter.com/ftBxVUHKrP
Tyler Herro came off the bench with instant offense as well and the Heat took the early lead. It never appeared as if Miami would simply cruise to victory against a tough opponent like the Sixers, but they lost big leads more than once tonight. They were up by nine at the end of the first quarter and as many as 11 in the second after a Caleb Martin dunk but had to settle for a 50-43 lead at the half.
Miami’s lead went up to 13 early in the third quarter with a Yurtseven basket but once again Philadelphia came roaring back, this time to take the lead at the very end of the quarter with a Seth Curry triple to make it 75-73.
The fourth quarter was a battle essentially between Embiid and the Heat’s defense, while Philly managed to limit the impact of Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry without allowing easy baskets from the others. Only Herro and Yurtseven made any sort of offensive impact in the fourth quarter, with Butler only scoring on three free throws and Lowry scoreless except for an inconsequential 3-pointer with time expiring. Meanwhile, Embiid was either scoring inside or being rewarded for his tenacity with free throws.
That the Heat were even fighting to win a close game was all the more surprising considering Butler shot 1-11, Lowry shot 2-11, Max Strus shot 3-12 and Duncan Robinson again struggled mightily off the bench with 1-9 shooting and 0-8 from deep. The only reason Miami’s overall shooting percentage was at 38.4% was thanks to Yurtseven’s efficient 10-12 shooting performance and Martin going 6-7 from the field.
Optimistically, while the loss stings this also demonstrates how tough it is to beat Miami even with so many of their players not shooting well, which perhaps wasn’t too shocking playing on the second night of a back-to-back set. Even still, their depth and defensive prowess kept them in this game as long as it did.
The loss drops the Heat to third place in the East, now half a game behind the Brooklyn Nets who won today against the New Orleans Pelicans. Miami’s next game is against Lowry’s former team the Toronto Raptors on Monday at 7:30pm at home.