The Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat faced off on Saturday evening, but the game itself was overshadowed by the news surrounding Joel Embiid’s knee.
Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo announced that Embiid had a slightly torn meniscus in his left knee on top of the bone bruise, undoubtedly sucking the air out of the Wells Fargo Center. And although one great Sixers big man was unfortunately sidelined, another made his presence felt in the Sixers 117-109 win over the Heat, snapping Miami’s 13 game win streak.
Nerlens Noel finished the game with 19 points and a season-high 4 steals in 32 minutes of action. After Hassan Whiteside dominated him for 32 points and 20 rebounds in their last matchup, Noel seemed determined to out-hustle Miami’s seven-footer. He brought the energy from the opening tip, depositing six of Philadelphia’s first ten points on array of attacks at the rim. He took it to the sluggish looking Whiteside on defense as well (who finished with a super casual 12 points and 19 rebounds), intercepting a pass intended for him and depositing a dunk on the other end, then emphatically rejecting his layup attempt several possessions later. He finished Saturday’s game like he started: throwing down a lob from TJ McConnell, who finished with 11 points and 10 assists.
Noel was aided offensively by the streaky Dario Saric who finished the game with 19 of his own, who fell just shy of his third 20 point game in a row. Like most of the Sixers, he spent most of his evening attacking the Heat off the dribble, shooting 5-8 around the rim. The team as a whole scored pretty well at the rim -- shooting over 53 percent -- despite the rim protecting prowess of Whiteside. Robert Covington provided the Sixers’ floor spacing on the night, going 5-6 from beyond the arc en route to 19 points. Overall, Philadelphia had seven different scorers in double figures, including the entire starting five.
Defensively, they locked the Heat down, who were in the top two in the NBA in both field goal and three-point shooting percentage during their 13 game win streak. They shot just 30 percent from beyond the arc, and had 20 turnovers, resulting in 21 Sixers’ points. Point guard Goran Dragic finished the game with 30 points on 21 shots, but without the presence of shooting guard Dion Waiters, the Heat had no other offensive options.
- Jahlil Okafor did not play against the Heat, and the reasoning behind it seems trade related, according to TNT’s David Aldridge. According to some reporters at the game, Okafor was seen shaking hands with members of the Sixers organization as if to signal he was leaving the team. The second-year player from Duke was not on the bench to start the second half, and emerged from the locker room five minutes later with injured rookie Ben Simmons.
- TJ McConnell gave Dario Saric a piggy back ride. Trust The Friendship.
- Joel Embiid is still listed as day-to-day, but considering that he admitted he’s still unhealthy, it’s unlikely he plays in the team’s final two games before the All-Star break. The Sixers are back in action against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.