The Miami Heat won the 4th Quarter of Game 5 39-19 in route to a 35 point win over the Philadelphia 76ers. And although Miami had sizable leads, they still had to earn this win. After the disappointment of how Games 3 and 4 went in Philadelphia, we saw the Heat do some things differently that lead to their success.
Besides the absence of Kyle Lowry, which has somehow also coincided with 5 Heat playoff wins (the Heat are 5-0 without Lowry in the postseason), Miami was able to force their will on this game. Here’s how...
#1 — The Heat did not allow Joel Embiid to comfortably get the ball in the paint.
Their tactic, as was at the end of Game 4, was to deny the front position of Embiid’s post, and force the Sixers to throw the ball over the top — clearly, this is not something they are comfortable doing because it resulted in plenty of errant passes that landed to be turnovers.
On top of that, when they did throw it in, the Heat made a strong adjustment to typically having either Jimmy Butler or PJ Tucker on the weakside ready to help, double, and trap Embiid if he did catch the pass. There were a few times Embiid got the ball in the paint and wasn’t hounded. Miami would prefer Embiid to do his work on the perimeter where they can play their odds on his shot (he’s still good) and keep him off the free-throw line.
If Miami can continue to limit his production in the paint, they increase their odds dramatically.
#2 — The Heat started making shots.
I mean what happened in Philadelphia should not be spoken of. Miami shot the ball really really poorly and it cost them a game. Despite that, and Jimmy Butler alluded to this as well, the Heat really just need to play good defense. And even in Game 4, the Heat were one player away from getting hot to be able to win that game.
In Game 5, Max Strus got hot...well he started hot and finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Heat shot 39% from three which is much closer to their average and it’s what makes them vulnerable. It’s the reason that the Sixers are reluctant to double-team Jimmy Butler (who is doing whatever he wants 1v1) because they know Miami’s ball movement will open the floodgates for their shooters to open looks.
The Heat need someone to be hot and a few guys to be able to make shots. Role players play better at home, for sure, but the Heat need someone to step up and be able to make them on Philly on Thursday night.
#3 — Jimmy Butler is in an offensive groove and doing what he wants.
And this is great news for the Heat. The one thing Miami needs is a guy who is just confident in 1v1 coverage and willing to be the guy. And he’s been that and more. You could argue that no one is having a better postseason than Butler.
Another game of Jimmy Buckets leading us in scoring ☕️ pic.twitter.com/jp0JsAG8RV— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 11, 2022
Here’s what was said post-game by Sixers’ coach Doc Rivers, “Jimmy is so comfortable right now. He’s doing everything he wants to do. There are adjustments we can make, some we really don’t want to have to make but we might have to.”
That...that is a comment made by someone who’s about to blink. Sure, they can change coverage of Butler, but when they do — their open up the floor for the rest of the Heat players who are ready for more space and to get going — Tyler Herro, Max Strus, and Victor Oladipo would welcome it.
The Heat will look to close out the Sixers in Game 6 on Thursday, 7 pm in Philadelphia. Miami is NOT favored in Game 6, so if you think they can cover the -2.5 spread then maybe consider winning some money on it from DraftKings. You can check out more and place a bet by CLICKING HERE.
What did you see from the Heat in Game 5 that gives you confidence for Game 6?
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.