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Miami Heat’s Playoff Hopes Dangle After Narrow Loss to 76ers



Credit: Miami Heat Twitter

The Miami Heat faced a gut wrenching 105-104 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, once again putting their playoff hopes on a precarious edge. Even more concerning for the Heat, the play-in game is not all they lost. Jimmy Butler got hurt during the game and there are whispers around the Heat organization that he is out indefinitely with a crucial do or die play in game against the Chicago Bulls looming for the right to play the Boston Celtics in round one.

Miami initially displayed a robust defense, leading by 14 points at one point. But Jimmy Butler’s injury in the first quarter was an omen of things to come for the Heat. Butler was visibly constrained, finishing the game with 19 points on a disappointing 5-of-18 shooting. The Heat’s t advantage dwindled, as they were overtaken by a resilient 76ers team buoyed by Nicolas Batum’s 20-point contribution and Joel Embiid’s key plays in the clutch. The 76ers’ comeback was spearheaded by a significant rally in the third quarter, shifting the game’s momentum and setting up a tense final period.

Tyler Herro tried to compensate with 25 points, but his effort on a 9-of-27 shooting night was not enough to secure a win. The Heat’s inefficient shooting woes reared its ugly head again as they shot just 35.9% s from the three, and only shot 42.2 % from the field.

A big reason for Miami’s loss was Bam Adebayo’s performance who took only nine shots and scored ten points. Adebayo who was recently announced of the USA’s Olympic team, failed to make his presence felt in the most important game of the year. In a game where Jimmy Butler got hurt and was hobbled, the captain of the team took only nine shots, was playing passive and got outplayed by a hobbled Joel Embiid.

Miami’s coach, Erik Spoelstra, remained resolute in adversity, emphasizing the need to take the “hard path” and prepare for an all-important game against the Chicago Bulls. However, it doesn’t have to be hard. Miami has been inconsistent all year in taking games seriously and developing winning habits. The Heat can’t just flip the switch in the playoffs when they have spent a whole year playing lackadaisical basketball. Now, Miami will try once again to win a home game on Friday night to have a shot at playing the best team, record-wise, in the NBA: the Boston Celtics, with their most important player likely out for that series. After watching this season unfold and witnessing last night’s performance, it is time for Pat Riley and the Heat brass to stop gaslighting fans about hard work and culture when the Heat have produced such apathetic play for 82 games. The time has come to reshape this roster and add star power, rather than pretending the Heat are serious contenders going forward.

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