The game was tight through three quarters. Then in the final quarter the Sixers missed shots, missed defensive assignments, Joel Embiid picked up his fifth foul and was forced to the bench, and the Heat opened up a double-digit lead kept the Sixers just out of striking distance the rest of the way. Doing a better job of closing out games recently, Thursday’s game against the Heat was not the Sixers’ best look.
Miami from three
The Heat shot 53.8 percent from beyond the arc on Thursday. The Sixers are usually a good team at defending the perimeter shots but were slower on the closeouts in Miami, and even when they did get to their man, the Heat were making tough shots. Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, and Wayne Ellington hit three three-pointers a piece.
Joel Embiid’s slump continues
His numbers recently would be fine for most other players, but they are not good for him and the Sixers need him to be better. He was scoreless in the second and third quarters and finished the night with 17 points. The foul trouble definitely took him out of rhythm. His demeanor seems to change at the end of road trips, he really feeds off crowd energy and loves playing at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers will be in Brooklyn on Sunday then return home to face the Pacers Tuesday which should spark a reboot for the big man.
Embiid needs to lean on his athleticism
When Embiid feels contact on his hip it’s a given that he will swing through to draw contact. Honestly it’s shocking that he is still able to do it so often. But, Embiid has such an advantage with his size, athleticism, and ability to move that he should rely more on his ability. It often looks like he is trying harder to draw the foul than he is to make the scoring play, but when he keeps his eye on the prize, it works out. With 10:21 left in the second quarter he maneuvered his way into the post, twisting and turning to get a bucket. Bam Adebayo could not keep up send Embiid to the free throw line.
Hassan Whiteside outshines Embiid
Whiteside had a game-high 26 points and found his way into the paint with a level of ease. The fact that Whiteside was able to have such a high-production night just emphasizes where the Sixers were lacking. Embiid’s foul trouble gave Whiteside more room, defensive lapses allowed Whiteside to get deep into the post more often, and the Sixers 18 turnovers gave the Heat more of an opportunity for easy buckets.