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Heat jump out early, cruise past 76ers 106-94 to hold on to No. 5 seed

Corey Robinson and PBT's Kurt Helin take a look at the frontrunners for the NBA's major awards and discuss why Nikola Jokic will win the MVP award over Joel Embiid and Steph Curry.

MIAMI — Jimmy Butler scored 21 points, Bam Adebayo had 18 points and 12 rebounds and the Miami Heat held onto the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 106-94 on Thursday night.

Tyler Herro scored 18 points, Goran Dragic had 15 and Kendrick Nunn added 13. Miami captain Udonis Haslem got his first minutes of the season in the first half, scoring four points and getting ejected with two technical fouls in just under three minutes.

Tobias Harris scored 21 points, Shake Milton added 12 and Danny Green had 11 for Philadelphia, which could have wrapped up the East’s No. 1 seed with a win. MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who was dealing with the flu earlier in the week, managed only six points on 3-for-9 shooting.

Philadelphia (47-23) goes home for its final two games of the season, both against Orlando, one Friday and one Sunday. Win either of those, and no matter what Brooklyn or Milwaukee do the rest of the way the 76ers will be the No. 1 seed in the East for the first time since 2001.

Miami is 39-31, tied with No. 4 Atlanta and No. 6 New York. The Hawks hold a tiebreaker over the Heat; the Heat hold a tiebreaker over the Knicks, who kept pace with a win over San Antonio.

This one was never close; Miami led 38-22 in the first quarter, the last of those points coming on Haslem’s first basket of the season. He was ejected early in the second after exchanging words with Philadelphia’s Dwight Howard - not long after he tried to play peacemaker when Embiid and Miami’s Trevor Ariza got into a back-and-forth.

Ariza got rolled up on by a tumbling Embiid and hurt his ankle, briefly leaving the game. Ariza took exception to the play but was able to eventually return; they talked it out in a calmer fashion at halftime.

Miami led by 22 in the first half, didn’t let the lead fall below 17 in the third and stretched the margin to 26 early in the fourth.

Miami finished the regular season 21-15 at home, only the 22nd-best home mark in the team’s 33 seasons.

Even with the loss, Philadelphia’s road record in this regular season - 20-16 - was notable. It’s the best road mark by a 76ers team in the last 18 years. The 2002-03 76ers were 23-18 outside of Philadelphia.