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Sixers Edge Heat for 7th, to Face #2 NY in Playoffs; Bulls Eliminate Hawks


PhilBoxing.com




The Philadelphia 76ers nipped the Miami Heat 105-104 to secure the 7th seed in the East. They will now play the resurgent second placer New York Knicks in the first round of the NBA 2023-24 playoffs.

Hold your horses, it was not a cardiac finish as the final score would suggest.

The Sixers were sitting on a five points lead 105-100 with just a few ticks left when a referee called a technical on Nick Batum off Heat's Tyler Herro on the inbound which awarded a technical free throw plus ball possession to the Heat. Herro sunk the free shot and Haywood Highsmith hit the triple with less than a second left to make the score to what it was at the final buzzer.

But earlier, on the last two minutes mark, it was nip and tuck between the Sixers and the Heat which was ended by a basket and a defensive gem by Batum that allowed the Sixers to break free through clutch foul shooting by Kelly Oubre.

Of course in the nip and tuck, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey were also prominently mentioned for the Sixers but no longer Jimmy Butler who had to leave the game on account of injury. His partner Bam Adebayo also seemed to be lost in the wild and wooly turns of event from both side of the floor.

But certainly, Butler was a huge loss in the first half, he was on stealing spree that he converted to easy baskets that staked the Heat to as much as 13 points.

Thankfully, Herro was playing his best game since coming back using his speed to set himself up for jumpers, mostly from the three points range. Herro and Highsmith kept the Heat near the game even without Butler.

But the Sixers employed Batum, now free from earlier guarding Butler to shut him down and the move worked. First he forced Herro to step on the midcourt line for a backcourt violation and with time down to less than a minute, he blocked a Herro jumper that would have tied the game, the possession going to the Sixers.

What was clear in that game however is that both the Sixers and the Heat are ready for the playoffs if they both get there.

Embiid with 23 points and 15 rebounds and Maxey with 19 and 6 assists led the Sixers. But they got more than ample help from Batum (20 points) and Oubre (11). Tobias Harris had 9 points and 10 boards. Even Kyle Lowry (7), Buddy Hield (7) and relief center Paul Reed (6) with Cameroon Payne contributed in the victory coming off the bench.

For Miami, Herro topped with 25 plus 9 assists. Butler had 19 points and at least six clear steals. Adebayo scored 10 points and 12 boards. Jaime Jaquez had 15 while Kevin Love managed 10 points aside from defending against Embiid. Highsmith chipped in 9.

Miami will have another chance to advance to the playoffs when it takes on Chicago Bulls for the eighth and final seed.

Chicago eliminated the Atlanta Hawks, 131-116 in their own play-in involving the 9th and 10th placers.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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