MIAMI — There are plenty of could-have, would-have, should-haves.
JJ Redick could have knocked down a game-winning three. The Sixers should have taken better care of the ball. They would have widened the gap in the Eastern Conference standings.
That didn’t happen, though, Tuesday night in Miami as the Sixers fell, 102-101, to the Heat (see observations).
“Overall we just played bad and we lost the game,” Joel Embiid said.
Redick missed an open three with time expiring, unable to offset a 27-point throwback performance by Dwyane Wade that included the go-ahead bucket. Redick explained the original play was for Embiid, but Ben Simmons had to create another shot when Wade sagged into the passing lane. Simmons found Dario Saric, who swung the ball to an open Redick.
“You can’t ask for a better look,” Redick said. “I don’t know if I rushed it or not, but I would have liked to have set my feet a little different. But other than that, can’t ask for a better look.”
Redick struggled on the night, shooting 2 for 8 from three (15 points). The performance was in contrast to his 39.9 season percentage.
“That’s a shot he’s going to knock down nine out of 10 times,” Embiid said. “It was just unfortunate that he missed, but I’m sure next time he gets the opportunity to knock down that shot, he’s going to do it.”
There were more missteps than a single missed shot. Embiid (23 points, eight rebounds, four assists) was sidelined with five fouls during the fourth quarter. Saric (21 points, seven rebounds) and Simmons (11 points, six rebounds, six assists) picked up four apiece.
The most glaring errors were the plaguing turnovers. The Sixers surrendered 26 points off 23 turnovers. Embiid, Redick and Simmons combined for 14.
A mistake here, a mistake there add up after four quarters. And every win and loss adds up in the standings, which the Sixers are monitoring as they vie for playoff positioning.
The Sixers (32-27) now are only one game ahead of the Heat (32-29) in the seventh spot and did not lock in a potential season tiebreaker. They lead the series, 2-1, with another trip to Miami remaining March 8.
A win also would have been an opportunity for the Sixers to gain ground in the rest of the conference. The sixth-seeded Bucks (33-27) lost to the fourth-ranked Wizards (36-25).
The Sixers have dropped two in a row with Sunday's defeat to the Wizards in Washington, D.C. Their schedule doesn’t leave room for error. They play road games against the Cavaliers (36-24) Thursday, the Bucks Sunday and the Heat next Thursday.
“That’s the type of loss we’re maybe going to regret because I think if we would have won those two games, we would have had a chance to be third or fourth in the conference,” Embiid said. “We’ve just got to keep staying focused and win some more games.”