PHILADELPHIA — When Pam Adebayo walked out of practice on Saturday, he delivered the tired wisdom about not starting the playoff series until someone wins on the road.
When it comes to Adebayo and the Miami Heat, the hope may be, in this case, that this series never begins.
Because it could take four home wins by the top-seeded Heat to qualify for the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons.
For the second game in a row, the Heat were eliminated by the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center, this time with a tally of 116-108 on Sunday night.
“We’re talking about two really good teams,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “This is a high-level competition and little margin for error on both sides.”
So after two wins at the FTX Arena and then those two losses in Philadelphia, the Heat went home on Tuesday 7:30 PM Game 5 in a 2-2 draw, with Thursday’s 7 PM return to the Wells Fargo Center. If necessary, Game 7 all-winners in the semi-final series will be the best of seven Eastern Conference, if necessary, on Sunday in Miami.
Despite a second consecutive breakout night from Jimmy Butler, the Heat were betrayed again with his 3-point shot, and now again with recurring concerns about Kyle Lowry’s left hamstring.
“We had small mental lapses throughout the match,” Adebayo said.
Butler gave his best on Sunday with 40 points backed by 21 from Adebayo, 15 from Victor Oladipo and 11 from Tyler Hero.
The whole time, Lowry kept stumbling, even while closing in with seven assists.
When asked about his situation for Tuesday, Laurie only replied, “Hope we see. The goal is for you to be there.”
In the transition to 2-0 since quarterback Joel Embiid returned from a concussion and orbital fracture, the 76ers from James Harden have 31 points, 24 from Embiid and 18 from Therese Maxi.
“A lot of it is thanks to us taking the shots,” Butler said. “When we tend to shoot, we play in defense. When we don’t, we don’t.”
Five temperatures from Sunday’s game:
1. Closing time: The team led 76 by 30-28 at the end of the opening period and 64-56 in the first half. Then the 76ers went up 11 in the third period before the Heat closed within 89-85 going into the fourth.
The 76 players quickly pushed their lead to 14 early in the fourth quarter, before Adebayo’s 3-point play equalized the Heat within 104-99 with 4:42 remaining.
But three times Harden went up three throws when the Heat threatened to get too close, including one that raised the 76s to 114-103 with 67 seconds to play, effectively finishing it off.
“We were close. “We were knocking on the door,” said Spoilstra. “What we needed was three stops at the end.”
Harden scored 16 points in fourth place.
“It started,” Adebayo said.
2. Butler again: As was the case in Friday night’s loss, Butler was often the Heat’s offense.
This included six-point possession in the third inning, when he scored, absorbed a blatant foul from Embiid, drained a free throw, and then, with the Heat holding possession, drained a three-pointer.
“Jimmy is just an elite competitor,” Spoelstra said. “He knows what is needed for the team.”
Butler was out of Friday’s 33-point performance.
Close 13 of 20 from the field and 12 of 13 from the Sunday streak.
“We’ve come up with ways to help him as a team,” Lowry said.
3. Lameness Lowry: Laurie limping off the field and into the locker room with 6:46 left in the second period, shortly after finishing his 0-for-7 start from the field to the series.
After missing four games and two weeks with a hamstring strain before returning in Friday night’s third game loss, Lowry initially slipped due to discomfort after suffering a foul in the transition. He returned to the seat shortly after going into the locker room.
With reserve point guard Gabi Vincent, who had started in Laurie’s absence, on the bench with three fouls in his first three minutes, the Heat went to Hiro and Oladipo as coaches.
The 76ers took a 9-2 lead in the immediate aftermath of Lowry’s departure, before returning with a 4:01 left a second, moving very cautiously afterward.
Asked if the injury was debilitating, Lowry said, “Put it like this, you don’t want to play with it.”
Lowry left forever 2:18 in the fourth quarter.
“We just have to go back to Miami and see,” Spoelstra said. “He is a warrior we just have to see. There is nothing now.”
He also waits for his teammates.
“Our best chance of winning is having him on the floor,” Butler said.
4. No shot: The Heat 7 closed out of 35 on 3 throws, and the 76ers controlled this box-point element, topping the Heat by 27 points from outside the arc.
Before the game, 76ers coach Doc Rivers predicted, “I wouldn’t be shocked if Duncan Robinson played some, the way he hits the ball. The fact that he’s on the bench with all that shooting, just tells you how deep they are.”
Robinson did not play.
“Right now, when you look at the percentage, that’s an easy result,” Spoelstra said, when asked if Robinson could help. “We pride ourselves on finding different solutions to win.”
Adebayo admitted that the shooting was confusing.
“Seven out of 35 out of three?” Adebayo said. “It doesn’t sound like us. We’ll find a solution.”
Hit 7 shot from 30 three-pointers in a Friday loss for Game 3.
5. Reorganization of rotation: With Dewayne Dedmon’s disease and unavailability, thermal circulation was reorganized, through downsizing.
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When Adebayo went off the bench midway through the opening period, Oladipo came in, with PJ Tucker moving 6 to 5 feet into the middle.
Then Adebayo returned late in the first quarter in place of Tucker, as did Embiid who stayed on the field through those two substitutions.
Spoelstra’s other midfield option was Omer Yurtseven, who had moments in the middle during the regular season against Embiid but did not play on Sunday.
Instead, when Tucker joined Adebayo on the bench with four fouls in the third period, Markieff Morris made his first playoff for the Heat, as a petite center.
“[Dedmon] “It probably would have been really helpful,” Spoelstra said. “We had to get over this dismal problem.”
And it can become more difficult.
“We haven’t seen the best of Joel in this series yet,” Rivers said. “He’s still used to playing with that gliding mask on his face.”