The Process has born fruit.
The 76ers defeated the Heat, 104-91, in Game 5 on Tuesday. In doing so, Philadelphia advances to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were dominant. They combined for 44 points and 22 rebounds. But it was J.J. Redick, whose 25 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from three, made the difference in the closeout game.
There were question marks entering this first-round series. Miami proved to be the gritty defensive team they had been all regular season long. But Philadelphia was just too much for the Heat to handle, especially in an elimination game with Meek Mill — fresh out of prison — ringing the bell to start the game.
The 76ers advance to the second round, where they’ll face the winner of the series between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics took a 3-2 lead on Tuesday, but the series swings back to Milwaukee for Game 6.
The Sixers have answered the biggest question they had to face in the playoffs: This moment is not too big or bright for them. Judging by how they’ve played so far, no moment is.
4th quarter: 76ers 90, Heat 79
4:53 -- Sayonara, Tyler Johnson, who just picked up his sixth foul.
5:24 — James Johnson just got a tech for almost MMA-style tackling two 76ers at one time. It actually wasn’t that bad, but he’s a black belt. This sums it up:
Nah because he would have been successful if he tried. https://t.co/QZkNrCRIur— Chillin in my Bacta (@AminESPN) April 25, 2018
Did Johnson just try to take out the entire sixers?— Daniel Treacy (@Danmclovin_13) April 25, 2018
I spoke too soon. As soon as I open my mouth, Miami runs off an 8-0 run with the same “United Nations lineup” that ran the score up earlier in the game.
Philly has broken this thing wide open. They’re just clearly the better team at this point, which we knew already. But there were some reservations that maybe — just maybe — this tough-nosed, defensive-minded Heat team could stifle these young Sixers. The 76ers aren’t young anymore. They’re ready for primetime.
Man, Joel Embiid is really unstoppable.
End of 3rd quarter: 76ers 80, Heat 68
Brett Brown has gone with his “United Nations lineup” featuring Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric at the four and five with shooters all around. It’s absolutely working, and it’s buying Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid some rest, too.
Didn’t notice Embiid with the follow-up:
Low key favorite part of this is Embiid elbowing Dragic on the flyby pic.twitter.com/lpzuntizfA— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 25, 2018
Goran Dragic just legit slapped Ben Simmons in the back of the head. He got a tech and a personal foul. I’ll find the video, but until then, here are some tweets. Actually, I found the video, but I’ll leave the tweets below, anyway:
Feel like that's not really allowed.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 25, 2018
Dragic with a slap to Simmons' head as tensions heat up at Wells Fargo Center. He is issued a technical. pic.twitter.com/JWdeJSZFhx
Goran Dragic just took a swing at Simmons' head after the play. Crowd did not like the replay on that one. Simmons walked calmly away from the play, naturally— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) April 25, 2018
Dragic slapped Simmons in back of head intentionally. Embiid right in face of Dragic, Johnson.— Jon Johnson (@jonjohnsonwip) April 25, 2018
Just like in first quarter when Simmons was undercut, keeps his cool again when Dragic slaps him in the back of the head.— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) April 25, 2018
Technical on Dragic, because that's just not part of the rules.— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) April 25, 2018
HALFTIME: Heat 46, 76ers 44
Should probably put a body on Ben Simmons:
The back- ! #NBAPlayoffs | #PhilaUnite pic.twitter.com/R7ABARb7hG— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 25, 2018
Justise Winslow has been pretty impressive:
HEAT in ATTACK mode! pic.twitter.com/p5wRwgk250— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 25, 2018
Message here from Spo to the team: Get it together.
"We have to get organized."— NBA (@NBA) April 25, 2018
Coach Spoelstra wired on @NBAonTNT #WhiteHot pic.twitter.com/y7tqUvfSuL
6:45 — “How does Ben Simmons do these things?” I asked myself. There is no answer. Only questions.
THAT PASS THO.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 25, 2018
Simmons finds Covington with this incredible pass. Sixers up, 34-31. pic.twitter.com/VPnueTy0ff
Is it Shaq?
The 7-footer doing what he does. pic.twitter.com/fEwp85Y4j3— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 25, 2018
End of 1st quarter: 76ers 23, Heat 21
Meek Mill rang the bell pregame for the 76ers, but that didn’t give Philly much help in the first quarter. It may have given them some jitters, as they don’t look like the team that jumped out to a 3-1 series lead here in Game 5. There’s still time to rally, and the 76ers will probably make a push in the second quarter. Right now, though, they need to relax. They still hold a two-point lead over Miami, but they don’t want this one to be a dogfight.
The Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers are giving one of the beefiest first rounds of the NBA playoffs ever, with every combination of players imaginable fighting throughout the series. Whether it was Dwyane Wade pulling Justin Anderson by the arm, James Johnson getting in Ben Simmons’ face, or Joel Embiid dragging Justise Winslow on the ground, this series has been downright spicy.
With Philadelphia up, 3-1, expect Game 5 to be chippier than ever with the Heat having everything to lose.
Miami has seen some vintage Wade in this series, with the 36-year-old scoring 25 points on 22 shots in Game 4. They’ll need that and more to stop Simmons and Embiid, who’ve been an unstoppable force so far. Embiid may have been sloppy on the offensive end, but even still, he was the single most impactful defensive player. Simmons has been unmatched driving to the rim, too.
The Heat need to find answers to keep this series alive.
Sixers vs. Heat Game 5
Date: April 24
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadephia
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Stream: Watch TNT