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Dwight Howard suspended after drawing his 16th technical foul of the season

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Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Sixers got stomped down in South Beach last night, and during the game reserve center Dwight Howard received his 16th technical foul of the 2020-2021 season, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The team has been one crucial win away from locking up home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs for two games now. After an 8 game winning streak, they fizzled in the second half against Indiana on Wednesday, squandering an 11 point halftime lead. And while Joel Embiid missed that game with a non-COVID flu then returned for the game in Miami, the offense did not return with him.

The Sixers will now be shorthanded at the big spot for tonight’s second of a back-to-back. The good news is that the Orlando Magic aren’t exactly the Miami Heat, and the Sixers are a lot better at home. The Magic are just 3-7 over their last ten games and will not have James Ennis, Otto Porter, or Terrence Ross this evening. I’m not sure they have much interest in winning this contest anyway, with the NBA Draft Lottery not far off. But Doc Rivers might have relied upon a heavy dose of Dwight Howard in this game since Embiid played at less than full strength just last night.

Howard is in many ways an enforcer and an instigator and that has its pros and cons. He can provide toughness and a championship edge, but he can also cross the line occasionally and cause trouble like when he got ejected in a contest vs. the Lakers back in March.

While the team should be able to get the win anyway, and perhaps even buy Paul Reed a few minutes, given the magnitude of this game in the standings, it’s far less than ideal to not even have Howard as an option.

In the end, if the Sixers clinch the one seed tonight, we’ll be able to say they have home court throughout the playoffs. If we offered that and health to you before the season you’d have likely been thrilled to accept. It’s just that pesky order of operations (playing subpar recently) that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth lately since the team hasn’t looked great in some time, despite the recent winning streak that allowed them to be in this enviable position.