Philadelphia – Perhaps the bubble run was no accident.
The Miami Heat return to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face either the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks (who leads their series 3-2) or the Boston Celtics. On Thursday, The Heat eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 6 of Semi-Final Series Eastern Conferenceturning a one-point match into a comfortable win after 19-4 innings to start the third quarter.
Here are some notes, figures and the movie from victory 99-90 Which placed the Heat in the Conference Finals for the ninth time in the franchise’s 34 seasons:
1. Big Game Jimmy
Jimmy Butler’s offensive game has what could be a critical flaw for some. Of the 217 players with at least 200 field goal attempts from outside the paint in the regular season, only Jalen Suggs (32.9%) and Anthony Davis (34.5%) had a less effective field goal on those shots than the Heat star (36.9%). ).
But Butler’s jump wasn’t too bad in the post-season, and he didn’t need to do much outside in order to get his high streak average. 27.5 points in the series. After shooting 5 for 16 in Game 1, he has averaged 30 points for 54% of shots over his last five games, capping at 32 points in 13 for 29 in Game 6.
Butler scored a range of points, including in Pick-and-Roll:
It was a show (in a familiar gym) in which his current and former teammates praised Butler’s ability to make a major appearance in the big matches.
“I didn’t know how good Jimmy was until I got here,” PJ Tucker said. “I thought he was a good player. I didn’t think he was that good. I thought, ‘He’.”
“He shows me more than I could ever have imagined…His heart, how he’s never afraid of the moment. And that in itself is a talent, because I’ve played with really good guys, but when they’re going through those big moments, they’re shy and they don’t really want that. And he wants every part.” From every moment. He’s not afraid at all. And he sets that. [fearlessness] To the many different players on our team. It really gives them confidence, in a weird way, but it does.”
“I still don’t know how we let him go,” Joel Embiid said of Butler. “I wish I could get into a fight with him.”
2. Minimum contracts, maximum subscriptions
One person does not win a streak. And while Heat brought in Kyle Lowry last summer to help Butler in the backcourt, the veteran base played just 56 minutes (mostly ineffective) in Miami’s two losses, dealing with a hamstring injury that may continue to limit his lead. (Good news in that regard? With Dallas forcing a team to a Game 7 with Phoenix, the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals isn’t until Tuesday.)
Bam Adebayo was great on defense, particularly in terms of keeping Embiid off the paint. Tucker was similarly decisive in his defense and timely attack. But, going back to the start of this season, it’s clear that these two people (and Butler) are expected to be major contributors.
Max Strauss and Gabe Vincent? not much.
Both men were on a two-way contract last season. Both are on minimum deals this season, and neither has guaranteed money for next year. But they each started in all four of the Heat’s victories in the series.
You can bring in free agents at a high price (like a butler) to lead you, but the ability to develop players like Strus and Vincent is really what separates the best league franchises from the others.
“They are everything the Miami Heat organization is about,” Butler said of Strauss and Vincent. “They play hard. They are not selfish to say the least. And more than anything, they just want to win.”
3. Barely hardened
to the third time In the series, The Heat kept the Sixers under a point per possession. Embiid was playing in pain, and the way the Heat were defending him, he couldn’t catch the ball anywhere near the basket.
The Sixers have another star, but James Harden couldn’t make it up, scoring just 11 points in a 4-for-9 shootout on Thursday. Philly trailed by only one point in the first half and in the second half, Harden was sound, scoring 0 for 2 and adding four assists and three turnovers.
After the Sixers fell into a double-digit hole, Shake Milton went a little late in the third quarter. And at that point, Harden seemed happy to defer to the man he was barely playing at the beginning of the series.
“We managed our attack,” Harden said. “The ball never came back to me.”
The Heat actually did cut the floor against Harden for most of this series, showing him a mob when isolated or off screen. In some cases he gave the right play. But in Game 6, it’s probably too negative for the guy who earns $44 million.
So yet another season is coming to a close with Harden yet to prove that, like Butler, he can be big in the big games. And, oddly enough, Harden, with his team’s season on the line, was outdone by the guy – PJ Tucker – who used to stand in the corner and watch him dribble the Rockets.
4. The new PJ Tucker
Tucker, from last rank In the league in terms of usage rate for three consecutive seasons (2018-19 through 20-21) he doesn’t regret his offensive role at Houston.
He said, “It was really simple, nobody could guard it and it was one of the best crimes ever. That it was so cold.”
But in his first season in Miami, he showed that he can do more attacking. He didn’t just do that Double the recording rate From last season, he also scored high career For a representative, he helps score 10.7% of his teammates’ field goals while on the ground.
This wasn’t necessarily part of the plan when Tucker arrived. But when The Heat team needed him to expand his role, they found something.
Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said before Match Six: “What we are trying to do more than anything is just to open up about the players and the potential and not put a stop to that. Quite frankly, we had a lot of injuries, especially in December and January, we needed to make Game.
“He was really able to keep us realistic on his feet and we were able to get to some coherent action that really helped our bowlers and our bits and all of that, which makes sense. If you’re a really high-smart defensive player you can usually add more to your page offensively.”
“I just got the freedom to play,” Tucker added. “I love opening guys. I love getting max shots early, make him go. And that’s part of my role on this team to be able to do that.”
Tucker only had one assist pass on Thursday, but as noted, he edged out Harden 12-11, with one bucket of Houston Tucker coming off a delivery and dribbling with Strauss:
Now Tucker could face the team that won the championship less than 10 months ago.
“Fate, isn’t it?” Tucker said about this possibility. “That’s what they call it? It’s like fate.”
5. Sixers went fishing
This series might have turned out differently if Embiid hadn’t missed the first two games or She was 100% healthy for the other four. And there’s no shame (at least not a shame as social media thinks it is) of being one of the top four teams in your conference.
But when you have the guy who finished second in the MVP vote and then trade it for the second highest paid player in the league, you’re all in the tournament. The Sixers failed to hit that target and still had to reach the conference finals in five trips to the playoffs with Embiid.
“I came to the conclusion at the end of this game, we weren’t good enough to beat Miami,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said.
This was supposed to be a two-year tour with Harden and Embiid, but the former did not exercise the player option when it was traded from Brooklyn. He can still train on it before June 30th, but if he doesn’t, things get interesting, because he certainly didn’t look like a player who should get another contract max.
When asked about the contract option, Harden said, “I’ll be here” without specifying how he would return to Philly.
* * *
“Friend of animals everywhere. Coffee maven. Professional food trailblazer. Twitter buff.”