Sixers lose first game at home as Bucks Christmas Day game looms
The Philadelphia 76ers fell to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. After the dribble penetration by Ben Simmons was stopped by the Heat’s transition defense, Simmons was forced to kick it out to Al Horford for a three pointer. With a hopes of lead, Horford’s shot didn’t fall. The loss at the Wells Fargo Center was a first this season, as the 76ers lost 108 to 104.
The Sixers came out hot, taking a 29-19 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Heat responded by playing a 2-3 zone defense that proved difficult for Sixers throughout the game. Philly struggled from behind the arch for most of the game, finishing just over 30 percent from three, justifying Miami’s defensive style. The Heat were up by 16 with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter when the Sixers began to scratch and claw their way back. A 14-2 run by the Sixers that lasted almost five minutes gave fans hope that the home streak would continue. As the teams traded shots in the final minute, the last shot by the Sixers’ Horford who missed.
Joel Embiid, who was a force underneath the rim, finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds. He had eight offensive rebounds, even with Miami though Miami’s rebounders had better position in the 2-3 zone. Despite the strong showing, Embiid struggled from three-point range, only hitting one of five. The bench didn’t help either, as James Ennis and Mike Scott were a combined two for nine from behind the arch. Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson chipped in 17 points a piece, while Tobias had 20.
Miami was a different story, holding a lead for the majority of the game. Jimmy Butler, who was getting an earful of boos all night from Philly fans, was held in check for the most part. He only posted 14 points in his second trip back to Wells Fargo Center. Bam Adebayo, who seems to have been the Heat’s best player as of the past couple weeks, poured in 23 points and collected 9 rebounds. Kendrick Nunn added 26 points and shot 50% from behind the arch. The overall team effort was too much for the 76ers to handle, allowing the Heat to walk away victorious.
Battle of the Coaches
Miami’s head coach Erik Spoelstra treated this game as a playoff game, going essentially just 7 players deep. Derrick Jones Jr. and Tyler Herro played 32 and 25 minutes respectively. On the other side, Brett Brown played a total of 10 players. Spoelsta, a two-time NBA Champion as a head coach, showed his wisdom over Brown when the Heat held a comfortable lead from the end of the 2nd quarter until the the end of the 4th. Brett Brown could only watch as the Sixers offense struggled against the Miami zone.
The loss drops the Sixers to fifth place in a tight race atop the Eastern Conference. After starting the night in 2nd place, the Miami Heat have displaced them and sent the 76ers barreling down the ranks. Philadelphia will play Dallas, Washington, and Detroit, before the Christmas Day showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks in Philadelphia. Fans have long awaited the Christmas Day matchup. The Bucks are the leading team in the Eastern Conference, with a 24-4 record. At their helm is NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging a sensational 31.7 points per gaming this season. The 76ers will look to create momentum in their next three games prior to the matchup. They need to in order to stand up to the Bucks.
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