The Philadelphia 76ers went over four months of the regular season without playing the Miami Heat and now play them for the second time in three days. Quirky schedule makers! I don’t know what to make of Monday’s two-point loss to these Heat. You’re facing the team that knocked you out of the playoffs last summer for the first time since then and you come out with all the energy of a pre-game walk-through? Was it an emotional letdown after the tough Boston loss two nights earlier when the starters had played tremendously well? Or are these Sixers just destined to continually frustrate us at every turn?
Hopefully, we’ll see a much more spirited effort when the two teams square off tonight in Miami. It’s the start of an extremely difficult road trip for the Sixers, covering five games in just seven nights. The Sixers are now four games back of both Boston and Milwaukee, who are in a virtual tie for first place in the Eastern Conference. Given the road ahead with these final 22 games of the regular season, Philadelphia’s focus should just remain on staying ahead of Cleveland, two games back of our Sixers in the fourth spot.
Potential postseason positioning is of little concern, though, if the Sixers don’t play better than what we saw Monday. Not allowing Miami to collect eight offensive rebounds in the opening quarter would be a good start. The team also has to cut out those careless, unforced turnovers, starting with Joel Embiid, who at least took responsibility for those giveaways after the loss.
#Sixers star Joel Embiid took responsibility for the team’s turnovers in their loss to the Heat. @KYWNewsradio pic.twitter.com/DKb4HJfWOt— Dave Uram (@MrUram) February 28, 2023
Tyrese Maxey was the brightest star, coming out of his slump in a big way during Monday’s second half before fouling out. Doc Rivers has talked about Maxey finding it difficult to be aggressive without space provided by the starters, which is basically Doc putting on the hot dog costume and trying to find the guy who did this. Maybe he’ll eventually get Tyrese back into the starting lineup, and then he’ll start staggering starters with the bench lineups and we can all enjoy our parade down Broad St.
As for Miami, it would sure be swell if Gabe Vincent would stop channeling Ray Allen whenever he plays the Sixers.
That's wild. Vincent's career averages against the Sixers are almost five points per game higher than any other team. https://t.co/cvvLsmlvoa— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 28, 2023
It seems like every time the Sixers play Miami, Vincent, Max Strus, and some other random NPC combine to hit 12 three-pointers. Then, we have to talk about Jimmy Butler falling one assist shy of a triple-double (with four steals), while Tobias Harris had two points in 35 minutes.
"Tobias Harris over me?!"— bwb_hoops (@bwb_within) December 17, 2022
Jimmy Butler after the Heat eliminated the Sixers in Game 6. pic.twitter.com/FNK7B7mxTC
Please win this one tonight, Sixers. It’s creeping towards a first-round matchup with these same Heat and I can’t have all the Jimmy baggage, Heat culture, and Erik Spoelstra coaching circles around Doc in what is supposed to be the prelude to the actual playoff proving ground that is the Eastern Conference Semifinals. A win tonight would be a point in both directions towards avoiding that outcome. Besides, with a SEGABABA tomorrow in Dallas, the Bucks, and then a back-to-back with frisky-ish Indiana and Minnesota still to come on this road trip, there are plenty of upcoming opportunities to disappoint. Let’s at least have one night of (false?) hope.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat
When: 7:30 pm EST
Where: Miami-Dade Arena, Miami, FL
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic