The Philadelphia 76ers evened the Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 116-108 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 4 on Monday (PHT), led by James Harden’s 31 points and Joel Embiid’s 24 points 11 rebounds.
The Heat attains the first two games in Miami without Embiid due to his right orbital fracture and moderate concussion. At home, the 76ers won Games 3 and 4 with Embiid and his mask in the lineup.
Wednesday (PHT) in Game 5 in Miami.
Embiid also prepares Harden, and if the Heat cannot resolve these two issues, the offseason could be their next obstacle.
The Heat chipped away at an advantage and pulled to within five points before Harden made his sixth 3-pointer with three remaining minutes. Harden destroyed the Heat with 3-pointers and hit clutch shot after clutch shot in the fourth.
The Sixers needed him to play like a three-time scoring champion in the playoffs when they acquired him in February.
Harden’s step-back 3-pointer for a 114-103 lead drove the crowd into a frenzy, and renewed hope sent the Sixers to Miami.
Jimmy Butler scored 40 points and virtually single-handedly propelled the Heat to victory. The Heat missed 28 of 35 three-point attempts.
Embiid shook off the Game 3 rust and returned to the dominant form that won him season-long “MVP!” screams from Philadelphia diehards. His first quarter was as terrific as it gets for a center. He scored 15 points, including a 3-pointer, on five of six attempts to put the Sixers in front. In Game 3, exhausted from days of inactivity due to a concussion, Embiid played the whole quarter’s 12 minutes.
Before the game, coach Doc Rivers stated, “He’s weathering the storm and overcoming obstacles.”
Harden assumed control of the next quarter; after a scoreless first quarter, Harden scored 13 points in the second.
He overlooks his first four shots of the game before sinking a 3-pointer and gaining momentum. During a 15-2 run, he scored a basket in transition and waved his arms toward the audience, urging them to be louder.
Philadelphia shot 64 percent from the field in the first half. However, ten turnovers, which Miami converted into 13 points, prevented the Sixers from extending their lead beyond double digits. The Sixers made nine 3-pointers in the first half compared to only four by the Heat.
Six consecutive points from Butler kept the Heat in the game. Butler made the free throw after making a layup and being fouled by Embiid, who was called for a flagrant foul and helped his old teammate to his feet. Butler made a 3-pointer on the ensuing play, bringing the score to 74-70 for the Heat.
With 1:37 remaining in the third, Butler drew Embid’s third foul and scored a three-point play to keep the Heat within four points. Butler mocked Embiid on Instagram after the Sixers tweeted a photo of him wearing a mask and a line from “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“(Expletive) your mask,” wrote Butler.
Butler scored 17 points in the third quarter, but the Heat still trailed 89-85 despite his efforts. When Butler shot an airball in the fourth quarter, and Harden immediately converted a step-back 3-pointer for a 97-85 advantage, the 76ers fans booed Butler.
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