It was an unusually dramatic season for the Philadelphia 76ers, and now the season is over.
The Sixers were eliminated by the Miami Heat in six games on Thursday, losing Game 6 of the second-round series 99-90 in a game that slipped away quickly in a catastrophic third quarter. The Heat will advance to face the winner of the Boston Celtics-Milwaukee Bucks series, which the Bucks currently lead 3-2.
The game started inauspiciously, with Danny Green’s significant knee injury and Matisse Thybulle’s early foul trouble. Philadelphia battled enough to only trail by one point at halftime, but then the Heat got going.
Miami opened the second half on a 19-4 run and the Sixers never came close to making it a game again. By the middle of the fourth quarter, ESPN’s commentators were eulogizing the team, Sixers fans were leaving and the players were allowing some embarrassing offensive rebounds.
Old friend Jimmy Butler wound up leading the Heat in the series-clincher, finishing with 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Max Strus also continued a breakout campaign with a 20-point, 11-rebound, five-assist effort.
Meanwhile, Joel Embiid shouldered a massive load and didn’t do much with it, posting 20 points on a ghastly 7-of-24 shooting and 12 rebounds, while James Harden was far quieter than the team hoped with 11 points on 4-of -9 shooting, nine assists and four rebounds.
Harden went scoreless in the second half.
Sixers’ dramatic season comes to an end
Even with Joel Embiid’s MVP runner-up performance, it seems safe to say this season never went according to plan for Philadelphia.
You may remember a certain point guard by the name of Ben Simmons, who started the season not playing for the Sixers and ended it not playing for the Brooklyn Nets. The Sixers persevered despite missing one of their most important, but flawed, players, and it seemed like they found their answer when they turned Simmons into Harden, the former MVP.
A roster with Embiid, Harden and some strong shooting in the supporting cast sounds like a recipe for offensive dominance. The partnership was successful enough in the regular season, but Harden never took off in the playoffs (not a new story with him), and Game 6 wound up being his lowest moment.
There was plenty of good for the Sixers this year, chiefly the emergence of Tyrese Maxey, but the team once again finds itself out early in the playoffs. The team still hasn’t reached the Eastern Conference finals since the days of Allen Iverson, and we’ll have to see if it’s content to stand pat this offseason or go through yet another overhaul.