Bam Adebayo threw a beautiful looping alley-oop pass to Jimmy Butler, whose cut to the rim was freed by a perfectly timed Tyler Herro backscreen. After releasing the ball, Adebayo kept his right hand up as he watched Butler dunk. Adebayo never lowered his hand when possession shifted, immediately pointing out defensive matchups.
The Heat hummed offensively and defended diligently to beat the 76ers 119-103 in Game 2 of their second-round series Wednesday.
Teams that won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home – like Miami – have won the series 94% of the time. However, Philadelphia could get Joel Embiid back from an orbital bone fracture when hosting Game 3 Friday. Even hindered by a thumb injury, Embiid is pretty darned impactful.
The 76ers will need him to be.
Miami led the final three quarters tonight, its advantage fluctuating between four and 18 points. The Heat’s 119 points were more than they scored in any game against the porous Hawks in the first round. And those 119 came with few transition opportunities. Miami’s offense was just hitting on nearly every cylinder in the halfcourt – cutting, screening, passing, shooting. Butler (22 points and 12 assists) was integral in all facets. Adebayo (23 points and nine rebounds) played a prominent role.
Complementary players did their parts, too. Led by reserves Victor Oladipo (19 points on 3-of-4 3-point shooting) and Tyler Herro (18 points on 3-of-5 3-point shooting), the Heat shot 14-for-29 (48% from beyond the arc).
At least Maxey (34 points) shined as an individual scorer when zooming to the rim.
Harden (20 points on 6-of-15 shooting with nine assists) continues to fall well short of his star standard. He couldn’t create much separation, and his limitations looked larger as the game progressed. Harden scored just four points on 1-of-5 shooting in the second half. The 76ers needed far more with Embiid sidelined.
Philadelphia won’t count on Harden as its go-to player once Embiid returns. But Harden must play better to pass as even a supporting star, let alone a No. 2 good enough to help overcome a 2-0 series deficit.