A night after a disappointing showing in Orlando, the Sixers suffered a crushing defeat in Miami.
After overcoming a second-half deficit, the Sixers lost an absolute wild one to the Heat, 117-116, at AmericanAirlines Arena Saturday night.
The craziness began when Tobias Harris missed a dunk that likely would've sealed the game with 18 seconds left. Joel Embiid was then stripped by Jimmy Butler and rookie Tyler Herro knocked down a three with 6.9 seconds left to put Miami up 107-106.
After an Embiid turnover, Butler was fouled and made 1 of 2 from the line. As Josh Richardson dribbled up the floor with the clock winding down, he was inexplicably fouled with one second left. Richardson missed the first free throw, then missed the second one on purpose.
Ben Simmons was able to gather the rebound and in one motion put the ball back in with 0.6 seconds left. It was initially called a violation as the officials thought the ball didn't hit the rim. After a review, the call was overturned to tie it up at 108-108 and send the game to overtime.
Al Horford, who had a rough night, fouled Butler off a switch with 2.3 seconds to go in overtime. Butler made 1 of 2 to give the Heat a one-point lead. Harris got a great look at a corner three but his tough shooting night continued (4 of 15).
The Sixers are now just 7-10 on the road and 23-12 overall. Their road trip continues in Indiana on Tuesday against the Pacers (3 p.m./NBCSP)
Here are observations from the loss:
‘The crown jewel’ did all he could
After the Heat got off to a hot start and jumped out to an early lead, Embiid took things over during his second stint of the first quarter. He immediately came in and scored an and-one dunk after a nice high-low pass by Ben Simmons and an ill-advised foul by Kelly Olynyk.
A couple possessions later, he came up with this ridiculous and-one on Bam Adebayo.
Joel Embiid: how.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 29, 2019
He also got the and-1 here. pic.twitter.com/PKaYtD29HC
Embiid lived at the charity stripe in the first half, going 8 of 8 and 11 of 12 overall. He was spectacular down the stretch outside of those tough turnovers, finishing with 35 points (11 of 16) and 11 rebounds.
But when Embiid was off the floor …
Horford looked so good in helping the Sixers to a Christmas Day victory over the Bucks, but his minutes as the team’s backup center didn’t go well Saturday. He was a team-worst minus-25 and seemed to struggle with the pick-and-roll actions Miami was throwing at him.
There have been times when Horford has looked every bit of 33 years old. This was one of those nights.
With Trey Burke providing a spark, Brett Brown opted for the scoring guard over Horford late in the game and in overtime. Brown opted to go defense for offense on that last possession, but Horford wound up on Butler on a bad switch.
The good and the bad from Simmons
There was an aggressiveness to Simmons early, but he was having trouble finishing. You could tell there was nobody on Miami that can stay with Simmons physically. Despite struggling from the field, Simmons’ attacking style of play led to six first-half assists and zero turnovers. He also had a couple huge finishes on lobs from Richardson in overtime and finished with 15 points (6 of 12), 11 assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
This is yet another game where you have to laud Simmons’ defense. He did an unbelievable job on Butler, who didn’t get his first field goal until the 1:10 mark of the second quarter. Butler finished just 7 of 21 from the field overall as Simmons came up with huge stops against him down the stretch. The offensive game continues to be up and down, but this guy is having an All-Defensive Team type of season.
More struggles with the zone
Remember when all we talked about was zone defense? It felt like the debate and discussion went on for a month, but in reality, it was just two games — starting with the Sixers’ loss to Miami a couple weeks ago.
When Erik Spoelstra went to it, Brett Brown’s team was ready and busted it pretty well early.
Then in the second half, they looked awful against it as Miami won the third quarter, 31-20. They continue to not work the ball in and penetrate the zone. Too often they make one pass and shoot on the perimeter. What that’s led to is long misses and transition opportunities the other way.
Burke shines, but could’ve used more from the bench
Burke provided a nice spark for the Sixers with 11 points on 5 of 9 and four assists.
He actually helped bust the zone a bit by getting penetration and making a couple shots. Defensively, Herro ran him through screens and Burke struggled to fight through it.
Furkan Korkmaz and Mike Scott couldn’t get it going from the field. Korkmaz also committed a couple brutal first-half turnovers and his defense continues to be an issue.
A game like this highlights how much the Sixers miss rookie Matisse Thybulle. Perhaps it also highlights the need for another strong bench piece currently outside the organization.
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