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Sixers’ fourth-quarter comeback falls short

Tyrese Maxey was excellent, but the Sixers struggled against the Heat’s zone and couldn’t slow down Gabe Vincent.

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

A fourth-quarter comeback wasn’t enough to overcome a lackluster start in the Sixers’ 101-96 loss to the shorthanded Heat at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.

The Sixers welcomed back Joel Embiid and Seth Curry to the lineup, but were down Georges Niang (health and safety protocols) and Furkan Korkmaz (non-COVID illness). They took on a Heat team without Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo Wednesday.

For the first two and a half quarters of the game, it looked like the hospital Heat squad was going to handle the Sixers easily. A fourth-quarter comeback ended with a late Gabe Vincent three, of course.

Here are my thoughts and observations from Wednesday’s loss to Miami.

First Quarter

-The Sixers came out pretty lethargic on both ends of the floor. They allowed Miami too many open looks from three. Duncan Robinson made them pay with 11 in the first quarter. Miami just outhustled the Sixers for loose balls and offensive rebounds.

-The Sixers looked not great on defense, but they looked like absolute crap on offense. Miami threw out their zone defense as usual against the Sixers, and the Sixers as usual had no idea how to properly attack it. They don’t have the shooting to shoot Miami out of the zone, especially with Matisse Thybulle in the starting lineup. This particular play didn’t come against the zone, but it’s a good summary of the offensive struggles.

-Embiid and Tobias Harris had 15 of the Sixers’ 18 first quarter points. It wasn’t until two minutes left when Isaiah Joe hit a corner three that another Sixer scored. Not great!

Second Quarter

-Sometimes when Gabe Vincent gets hot, there’s just nothing you can do. The Heat guard went 4 of5 from three in the first half! Eighty percent!

-The Heat as a team shot very well from deep, going 45.8 percent from deep in the first half. They pushed the lead to as much as 17 in the second quarter.

-Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid are the reasons the Sixers went into the half only down nine. Maxey came alive with 12 points in the frame. This stretch was a big reason why the Sixers need to stagger Embiid and Maxey’s minutes, as they are the only two players they generate offense from. The all-bench unit got absolutely slaughtered at the beginning of the quarter until Maxey and Embiid came back. At this point in the season, the Sixers should try to have one of the two out there at all times.

Third Quarter

-The Sixers hurt themselves tonight by having Thybulle out there for such a long stretch. The Heat seemed more than content to let Thybulle fire away and miss. Having Danny Green or even Isaiah Joe in that spot tonight would have made much more sense, especially given how much Green contributed in the fourth.

-The Heat dominated most of this quarter. They continued to get killed by newest Sixers Killer Gabe Vincent (his third game against the Sixers with 20+ points). Miami pushed their lead to 23. Despite that, a good stretch from Embiid at the end of the quarter kept Miami’s lead to 11 at the end of the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

-The Sixers played tremendous defense to start the fourth quarter, causing four turnovers in the first four minutes of the frame.

-Tyrese Maxey had another incredible performance. His energy brought the Sixers back into this game when they looked dead. It continues to be encouraging to see him have such an impact on the game with both ends. He finished with 27 points and shot 73.3 percent from the field. It’s really a shame this performance didn’t lead to a win.

-I am adding Gabe Vincent to the official list of random Sixers killers. He had a career high 26 points, including the dagger three to end this one. On his career he averages just 5.1 points per game, but has now scored 20+ points against the Sixers three times. Welcome to the club, Gabe!