MIAMI –- Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 108-99 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
— The Sixers had been road bullies. They defeated the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers, struggling Charlotte Hornets and woeful Chicago Bulls. However, they can’t win road games against the Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers, teams they’re battling in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
— Joel Embiid seemed in desperate need of a day off. The Sixers center has been sluggish, a step too slow and struggling on offense, in each of the last three games. He was totally dominated Thursday night by Hassan Whiteside.
— Ben Simmons needs to attempt more than just one second-half shot for the Sixers to have a chance to beat a quality opponent on the road. But that’s what he did against the Heat. The point guard’s lone second-half attempt came on an alley-oop dunk, assisted by Dario Saric, with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left.
— The Sixers showed signs during pregame warmups of a team that was going to lose. During individual drills, they looked more like a team ready to go home than a squad about to play in a key game. There was no intensity.
— Robert Covington has to play much better than he did Thursday. The Sixers small forward scored only three points and missed all 10 of his shots from the field, including five three-pointers. Covington missed a cutting finger roll and a driving finger-roll layup on his first two attempts.
‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards
— Best performance: Whiteside gets this for dominating Embiid. The Heat center had a game-high 26 points on 9-for-11 shooting. He also had eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks — both on Embiid shots. Embiid scored 17 on 5-for-18 shooting.
— Worst performance: This was a tough one, because as poor as Covington was on offense, he recorded a game-high four steals and blocked one shot. But you can’t go 0 for 10 from the field, especially when taking some layups. He also graded out at a game-worst minus-18. That’s why I gave him this award.
— Best defensive performance: This goes to James Johnson. The Heat power forward had three steals and two blocks and did a solid job in defending Simmons.
— Worst statistic: This goes to Covington for missing all 10 of his shots.
— Best statistic: I had to give this to Whiteside for shooting 75 percent from the field..
— Worst of the worst: The altercation between Embiid and Whiteside with 9:11 left. Whiteside hit Embiid in the back, drawing a technical. The players also received a double foul. They are too good to keep acting like gangstas when their squads meet.