Playoff Bell Ringer standings:
Tobias Harris – 3
Joel Embiid – 3
Tyrese Maxey – 2
James Harden – 2
Paul Reed – 1
Trailing by one at halftime with the season on the line, the Philadelphia 76ers were outscored by the Miami Heat, 19-4, to begin the second half, and it was all but over at that point in the eventual 99-90 defeat. Already at a depth disadvantage to the Heat, the Sixers lost Danny Green early in the game to what looks to be a serious knee injury when Joel Embiid accidentally landed on his teammate’s leg. Even so, Philadelphia looked outmatched and outworked on both ends. Their offensive game play was routinely “have someone try to go 1-on-5.” The Heat outhustled them on the glass and in the open court. James Harden’s last points came at the 3:31 mark of the second quarter, and his energy on transition defense, moving offensively, and boxing out was at “casually perusing the buffet options at the strip club” level. This roster will need an overhaul in the offseason (and hopefully a shake-up on the sidelines as well). For now, let’s celebrate the guys who did have a pulse tonight.
Shake Milton: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 0 turnovers
It was a weird series for Shake, who fell out of the rotation for a bit, then re-entered, and concluded by being the best offensive option in the second half of a do-or-die game. After halftime, Milton was 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from behind the arc, for all 15 of his points. He scored seven points late in the third quarter to help maintain a glimmer of a comeback hope for his team, then hit some tough shots as part of the Hail Mary, final flurry in the fourth. Shake also had a nice drive-and-kick earlier in the game to find Tobias Harris for a corner three at the end-of-first-quarter buzzer. Shake, happy to have you back as an 8th/9th man next season.
Tyrese Maxey: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 4 turnovers
Tyrese didn’t have his shot working tonight (he was just 1-of-7 from three-point range), but it was heartening to see him still caring and flying around like a maniac there in the fourth quarter. After he scored with under three minutes left, Maxey just missing out on getting the steal as he dove out-of-bounds was the final straw for me watching this game that it wasn’t their night. Throughout the game, Tyrese converted a handful of floaters and runners, the main Sixers player capable of beating his man off the dribble. I can’t wait to see how Maxey builds off this incredible sophomore campaign; I was glad to see him go out this season hustling his butt off.
Joel Embiid: 20 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers
Joel had a rough time of things, consistently dealing with double and triple teams and dealing with his litany of injuries as he tried to tough things out with his body held together by scotch tape and a never-say-die attitude. As a result, he was forced to settle for too many jumpers, which were understandably off more often than not with the heavy workload and injuries wearing him down. He battled, though, collecting four offensive rebounds and clearly leaving everything on the floor. You couldn’t go a TV timeout portion of the game without seeing Embiid crashing to the hardwood at some point. The man’s heart is as big as his 7-foot, 280-pound frame. I sure hope he gets a healthy postseason one of these years.