After making quick work of Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in the first round with a gentleman’s sweep, the Miami Heat have had several days off while the Philadelphia 76ers eliminated the Toronto Raptors in six games. Game 1 is set to tip-off at 7:30pm EST Monday night at the FTX Arena.
The Sixers’ win came at a high cost however, when All-Star center and MVP candidate Joel Embiid was injured by fellow Cameroonian Pascal Siakam with just a few minutes left in their blowout victory and will now be out for an indefinite period with a mild concussion and right orbital fracture. Embiid had played in a career-high 68 games this regular season and averaged 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists. He contributed 33 points and 10 rebounds in the 132-97 Game 6 victory against Toronto and averaged 26.2 points and 11.3 rebounds in the series despite playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb that he suffered in Game 3.
Embiid was evaluated by specialists Friday evening to determine the severity of the orbital fracture. The results are still pending, but sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that a determination on surgery has not yet been made. Embiid will be evaluated again next week.
There is no timetable for his return to the lineup, but sources said “the door isn’t closed” yet. It depends on the severity of the orbital bone fracture and how the team’s medical staff decides to treat it.
The loss of arguably the best player in the series is a huge blow to Philly’s chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, as they were already facing a tough task against the top seeded team in the East and without homecourt advantage. Third-year guard Tyrese Maxey has been a revelation this season and in the first round, but recently acquired James Harden simply isn’t the same player he was in Houston and now both will have to do pretty much all the heavy lifting with the loss of their superstar big man and a bench that doesn’t compare to Miami’s depth. Harden finished the Raptors series averaging 19.0 points, 10.2 assists, 5.0 boards, 2.2 threes, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals and must continue to raise his game for his team to have a chance.
Not only will it not be possible to replace Embiid’s production, it will make life significantly harder for Maxey and Harden to get quality shots against Miami’s stellar defense and it's left to Sixers coach Doc Rivers to find a solution to it — even if the most optimistic projections have Embiid returning toward the second half of the series.
“Now, we have to create space,” Rivers said Saturday after practice. “You come off of a pick-and-roll with Joel, you know what you’re getting. They’re not going to switch much, and if they do it’s a bad switch. Now, we come off of a pick-and-roll, my guess is they’ll trap us a lot more. They don’t care if Paul Reed, DJ, who rolls, they know it’s not Joel.”
Meanwhile the Heat have their own injury issues to address despite the extra benefit of wrapping up their first round series early, even with starters Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler watching from the bench in street clothes in the decisive Game 5. Despite the extra days of rest, Lowry has yet to take the practice court after missing the final two games against the Hawks while Butler still experienced some right knee soreness in practice but insisted he would be ready to play in Monday’s Game 1.
Tyler Herro returned to the team but also missed practice due to (non-COVID) illness, and is listed as day-to-day in the injury report but expects to be ready. Forwards P.J. Tucker (calf) and Caleb Martin (ankle) were back on the practice court and should also be good to go.
Miami went 2-2 against Philadelphia during the regular season, but none of the games featured James Harden and the Heat were without Adebayo in two of the games and Lowry and Butler for a game each. Embiid averaged 23.7 points and 13.7 rebounds to lead his team in his three games against the Heat, while Gabe Vincent surprisingly led the Heat with 21 points averaged in his two games.
Eastern Conference Finals Schedule
|Game 1||Tuesday, May 17||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 2||Thursday, May 19||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 3||Saturday, May 21||Miami @ Boston||8:30 p.m. ET||ABC|
|Game 4||Monday, May 23||Miami @ Boston||8:30 p.m. ET||ABC|
|Game 5*||Wednesday, May 25||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 6*||Friday, May 27||Miami @ Boston||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 7*||Sunday, May 29||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
Heat 4-1 (if Embiid misses significant time)
Miami’s first playoff series featuring the Big 3 of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh defeated the 76ers 4-1 in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Philly would go on to eliminate the Heat 4-1 in the 2018 first round in what would be the final playoff series of Wade’s legendary career.
Heat hang on to beat Sixers 101-96
“After dominating for nearly the entire game, Miami nearly blew a 20 point lead but would hold on for a much needed win”
With the offense firing and the defense locking things down, the Heat was able to build a 19 point lead. However, Philly didn’t lie down with Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid chipping away for 8 straight points to trim the lead to eleven.
Miami didn’t stay stagnant for long as they continued their hot shooting from three with Duncan and Strus dominating. There is a lot of depth on this team, which makes them able to withstand a lot of damage. Which is necessary with the stars missing. But one thing is for certain if Miami is hitting their threes they can go toe to toe with anybody in this league.
Tobias Harris hit a huge three to tie things up (in the fourth), but a big charge by Dedmon put things back in Miami’s control. Gabe Vincent went on to hit a huge three (his seventh of the game) to get Miami back out ahead with less than a minute to go. Embiid missed a look in the following possession giving the Heat a chance to end things but a botched possession that ended in a backcourt violation gave Philly a chance with 6.7 seconds left to tie the game. Embiid took a three, but the miss kept Miami ahead and sent Lowry to the line after grabbing the board where he’d put the finishing touches on a Miami win that was a rollercoaster of emotions towards the end.
Heat struggle offensively in 109-98 home loss to 76ers
“Miami’s seven game home streak was snapped in a cold shooting night.”
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.
Heat finish strong to hold off 76ers in 99-82 home win
“Miami held Philadelphia to 14 points in each of the first and fourth quarters.”
In the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat took another huge step forward in beating the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 99-82 at the FTX Arena on Saturday night.
Both Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro scored 21 points to lead the Heat. Herro became the first Heat reserve in franchise history to score 20 or more points in six consecutive games while Butler scored all of his points in the first three quarters.
Without Embiid, Harden, Sixers shock Heat 113-106
“Tyrese Maxey scored the clutch buckets for Philly.”
Before the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers tipped off for their 7:30 p.m. game Monday night, the Sixers announced that Joel Embiid and James Harden would rest on the second night of a back-to-back. That would give Miami a golden opportunity to strengthen their hold on the one seed of the Eastern Conference.
Tyrese Maxey, the player who Philadelphia picked right after Miami selected Precious Achiuwa in the 2020 NBA Draft, had other plans.
In a game that was close throughout, Maxey made an and-one with 2:18 left to play to give Philadelphia a 106-101 lead. On the other end of the floor, Jimmy Butler attempted a 3-pointer. It (obviously) missed. The third-year guard made a 3 for the Sixers to put them up 109-101 with 1:34 left. The crowd erupted. And for good measure, Maxey hit one more 3 and made an athletic block on a Caleb Martin layup before the final buzzer sounded. Philadelphia won 113-106, tying the season series at 2-2 and moving within two-and-a-half games over the Heat for the top seed.
- Jimmy Butler (knee): day-to-day
- Kyle Lowry (hamstring): day-to-day
- P.J. Tucker (calf): day-to-day
- Tyler Herro (illness): day-to-day
- Caleb Martin: day-to-day
- Joel Embiid (concussion, orbital fracture): out
- Charles Bassey (shoulder ): questionable
|Reggie Jackson||PG||Kyle Lowry|
|Paul George||SG||Tyler Herro|
|Kawhi Leonard||SF||Jimmy Butler|
|Marcus Morris Sr.||PF||Caleb Martin|
|Ivica Zubac||C||Bam Adebayo|
TV: TNT, ESPN (see series schedule for individual game info)
RADIO: The Ticket 790AM & The HEAT Radio Network (Jason Jackson, Ruth Riley Hunter)
SPANISH RADIO: WAQI 710AM & The HEAT Spanish Radio Network (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala)
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