As many teams in the league battle COVID and its protocols, the healthier team (in this case, the Sixers) is at a significant advantage in any given matchup. For a variety of reasons Wednesday night, the Sixers were without Furkan Korkmaz, Georges Niang, Jaden Springer, and Grant Riller, while Miami was missing Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, and Markieff Morris. Miami was able to overcome the aforementioned absences, as the Heat prevailed 101-96.
Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris scored the teams’ first 15 points. Unfortunately, the team only scored 18 points in the initial quarter. Meanwhile, Erik Spoelstra‘s Heat converted on 5/10 three-point attempts to start the game. As a result, Miami held a 29-18 lead entering the second quarter.
After a 10-2 Heat run to open the second, Tyrese Maxey took over, scoring 10 straight Sixer points. In the first half, Maxey, Harris, and Embiid combined for 41 of the Sixers’ 49 points. Also, no other Sixer made more than one shot. However, Doc Rivers‘ squad competed to a greater extent in the frame, outscoring Miami 31-29 to decrease the halftime deficit to 58-49.
In particular, Miami was able to pressure Philly and the home crowd early and often, thanks to a 2-3 zone defense and 17 points (5/10 FG, 4/7 3P, 3/3 FT) from elite floor-spacer Duncan Robinson. Additionally, Gabe Vincent poured in 15 first-half points (4/8 FG, 4/6 3P, 3/5 FT) for Spoelstra’s shorthanded rotation.
Once again, Doc Rivers’ halftime meeting proved to be embarrassingly useless, as the opposing Heat opened the half on a 19-4 run. As a result, Miami’s lead ballooned to 23 points. However, the Sixers closed the third quarter on a 15-3 run to cut their margin to 81-70.
Philly was able to narrow the Miami lead to single digits within the first minute of the fourth. Their defense was noticeably more engaged, but the offense remained a sloppy mess, unable to solve the labyrinth that is a 2-3 zone. Moreover, blossoming Maxey was consistently Doc Rivers’ lone source of reliable offense throughout the night.
Danny Green‘s 1,500th three of his career brought the Philly faithful to life, narrowing the deficit to 4 points with under 4 minutes remaining. Unimaginably, Harris tied the game with 1:20 to go on a corner three! However, on a career night, Gabe Vincent hit the game-winning three with 39 seconds in the game to sink the Sixers.
More specifically, Vincent tallied 26 points (8/16 FG, 7/12 3P, 3/5 FT), while Robinson added 21 points (6/16 FG, 4/11 3P, 5/5 FT). Other notable Heat contributors included Philly-native Kyle Lowry, who accumulated 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Also, Dewayne Dedmon, who finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 31 minutes. As a team, Miami shot 41% from three (18/44) and outscored the Sixers 23-10 in second-chance points.
Contrarily, Philly shot 32% from three (12/37). Maxey was the game’s leading scorer with 27 points (11/15 FG, 2/5 3P, 3/3 FT) in 41 minutes. The exciting guard also dished out 5 assists. Harris scored a quiet 24 points (9/18 FG, 3/7 3P, 3/4 FT), while Embiid added 17 points (5/13 FG, 1/5 3P, 6/6 FT), 14 rebounds, 5 assists, one steal, and one block in 37 minutes. Danny Green played within his 3-and-D role, hitting 3 threes and tying a career-high with 5 steals. In a game sans Korkmaz, Isaiah Joe unexplainably only played 11 minutes.
The Sixers will play in Brooklyn on the second leg of a back-to-back, Wednesday, December 16th at 7:30 pm EST. The game can be followed on NBATV, NBC Sports Philly, and 97.5 The Fanatic. For more in-depth Sixers coverage and other Philly sports news, visit PhillySportsNetwork.com!