The Heat had as many as 20 points in the second half of Game Six, and the Escape managed to get away with that game thanks to Jimmy Butler once again.
The All-Star winger went to 32 points and 8 rebounds, having been the Heat’s main catalyst throughout the long streak. Perhaps the X-factor who appeared for them in this series was Max Strus, who scored 20 points in Game 6.
Between finding an offensive balance and continuing to be a top-tier defensive team, the Heat looked strong in their streak against the 76ers.
As for Philadelphia, an unofficial period will begin, filled with question marks due to the ineffectiveness of their stars in this series.
At times, the 76ers seemed to be undisturbed and this lack of energy and effort would definitely be a major point of focus for them as they head off the season looking to prove that they are in fact contenders for the championship going forward.
This semifinal series ended up being pretty lopsided in favor of The Heat, but here are the key details we learned from this series between Miami and Philadelphia.
James Harden nearing the end of his career?
The biggest benefit of the series on the 76ers side of things is James Harden’s play and his long-term future with the team.
When the Sixers traded for Harden on this year’s trade deadline, there was a lot of hype in Philadelphia about All-Star duo James Harden and Joel Embiid, especially since they transferred Ben Simmons for the 10-time All-Star guard.
Now, Harden is entering the season with only a $47.3 million player option for the 2022-23 season in his contract and it doesn’t look as though the organization will grant him a maximum-level contract extension anytime soon.
Set to turn 33 in August and show off some very lackluster performances in the post-season, there will be plenty of questions this unexpected about whether or not this is the best for Harden.
He won the league’s Most Valuable Player award, is one of 45 different players in NBA history to have made an All-Star game at least 10 times, all of which will be or will be Hall-of-Famers, and is a three-time scoring champ.
Other than winning a ring, there isn’t much left for James Harden to prove in his career, and due to the fact that he’s fallen drastically as a player since leaving Houston, the end of his career could very well be.
Harden hasn’t looked excited in the Sixers’ uniform beyond his first few matches with the team and after another disappointing exit, 76 players will be sent to the drawing boards, trying to come up with a plan for how to actually be a championship contender.
Perhaps a full break could see James Harden return to the all-star, NBA player he was two seasons ago, but he has another year left on his Philadelphia contract and they may not be willing to pay the money for him. Great group to get around.
Miami is built for playoffs
When you compare the Miami roster to the Philadelphia roster, it’s very clear to see that the Heat have more depth and their roster is designed for a series like this that just ended.
High-level scoring and scoring has become a huge part of team game plans around the NBA in recent years, and while you need to score to win the game, you also need to be able to stop your opponents from scoring.
Defensively, the Heat have been and still are a top-tier defensive team for a while, and Pat Riley built this roster with him as an outstanding defensive team late in the playoffs.
PJ Tucker, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, and even guys like Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon are all longtime veterans of this league with previous playoff experience before.
Add in high-profile young talents like Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo and all of a sudden, it looks like this team was built to withstand a long match streak.
To be able to play to their strengths, the Heat compiled their rosters last season knowing they would be in a position to contend for the championship.
Eric Spoelstra Doc Rivers
Many are inclined to think that a coach in the NBA is as good as their players, but there are some talented coaches in this league who make the most of their players, and Eric Spoelstra happens to be one of those coaches for the Miami Heat.
Spoelstra is the epitome of a ‘player coach’, as he has time and time again helped develop unpolished and unremarkable talents into key contributors to his teams at championship level.
He did it during the Heat in 2012 and 2013 and he’s doing it again with this year’s team.
Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, Max Strauss, Dwayne Deadmont and Omar Yurtseven have all been incredible players, yet they have all impacted the Heat this season and Eric Spoelstra has put them in a position to succeed.
Aside from player development and rotation in the series against Philadelphia, Spoelstra also made all the right tweaks in defense of the Heat.
After games 3 and 4, which the Heat lost on the road in Philly, Miami returned to stopping the 76ers while driving and inside the paint offensively. As a result, they only made the Sixers 85 and 90 points in the last two games of the series, both of which Bhatt won.
Doc Rivers made no in-game alterations to the 76ers compared to Erik Spoelstra and his staff who made a number of changes throughout the series, which is why the Heat were able to seal things off in six matches.
Jimmy Butler is elite
During the regular season, Jimmy Butler averaged 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and fired 48% from the ground. Those are really good numbers for the Six-Time All-Star Team.
During this year’s playoffs, Jimmy Butler averaged 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.1 steals and shots 52.5% from the floor, 36.4% from a three-point range. These are elite-level numbers for him.
Very few players in this league ride things to a higher level during the playoffs and end up averaging better numbers than they did during the regular season, but Butler is one of those rare players.
When it comes time for the playoff, Jimmy Butler is one of the best teams in the league and he’s proven that with the Miami Heat over the past few seasons. If you want a perfect example of that, just take a look at what he did in the 2020 NBA Bubble when he carried the Heat to the NBA Finals with Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic injured!
Proving to be a factor in shooting from the ocean and scoring from the edge, Butler has taken his game to the next level in the post-season once again which is why the Heat have a great chance of advancing to the NBA Finals for the second time in the past two seasons.
All the other pieces on their roster are critical to their success, but Jimmy Butler is key to the Heat winning another title.
Arguably one of the best two-way players in the league, Butler led Miami scoring in four of the six games they played against Philadelphia, and looking forward to the Eastern Conference Finals, we should expect nothing less from the Heat All-Star captain.
NBA basketball related stories
- Fracture: Danny Green 76 has a severe knee injury: According to Philadelphia 76er Shams Charania, Danny Green ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament after sustaining a left knee injury in Game Six of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night. click here.
- What’s next for James Harden, 76ers entering the offseason: The Philadelphia 76ers lost in six games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals, casting doubt on the franchise’s and All-Star James Harden’s long-term future in Philadelphia. click here.