MIAMI (AP)Bam Adebayo caught a lob for an alley-oop dunk midway through the fourth quarter, then threw a lob to Jimmy Butler for another dunk about a minute later.
Both were very easy.
Joel Embiid could complicate those plays going forward – and the Miami Heat are heading north expecting that he might be waiting for them.
Adebayo scored 23 points, Butler had 22 points and 12 assists, and the Heat beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-103 on Wednesday night for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
”It’s always nice to win,” Butler said. ”We just did what we’re supposed to do at home.”
Victor Oladipo scored 19 points on his 30th birthday and Tyler Herro added 18 for the Heat, the East’s No. 1 seed. Oladipo had 10 of those points in the fourth quarter.
Tyrese Maxey scored 34 points for Philadelphia, which got 21 from Tobias Harris and 20 from James Harden.
”We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and try to figure it out,” Maxey said.
A 10-0 run in the fourth turned an eight-point Miami lead into an 18-point edge, sealing the win and ensuring the Heat would hold home court before the series shifts north. Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.
And now, the Heat will hope history holds – and the 76ers will hope it doesn’t.
Miami has taken a 2-0 lead in 18 previous series, including the first round this season against Atlanta, and won the matchup every time. The 76ers’ franchise has dropped the first two games of a matchup on 19 other occasions, never recovering to win the series.
The question going into Friday will revolve around whether Embiid could be ready for Game 3. The league’s scoring champion and MVP finalist is recovering from an orbital fracture and concussion and has, not surprisingly, been big-time missed by the 76ers.
”We don’t have a big man right now,” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers lamented.
Adebayo surely isn’t complaining. He was 8 for 10 from the field and 8 for 8 from the line in Game 1; he followed that up with a 7-for-11 night from the floor on Wednesday.
But he said he’s preparing as if Embiid will play Friday. And Butler, who is close with Embiid from their time together as teammates in Philadelphia, is hoping his MVP pick can play in the series.
”I want to compete against him,” Butler said. ”I really do.”
Rivers, however, didn’t sound optimistic about the possibility of Embiid being ready.
”He’s got so many steps to go through,” Rivers said. ”I don’t think he’s cleared any of them right now.”
It wasn’t just the absence of Embiid, though, that hurt Philadelphia. The 76ers were awful again from 3-point range, shooting 8 for 30 in Game 2. They’re now 14 for 64 from deep in the series.
”When it comes down to it, you’ve got to make shots, especially when you’re on the road against a really good team,” Harden said. ”It’s pretty simple.”
Danny Green was 1 for 10 from the field – the second time in his playoff career that he had that many attempts and shot that poorly in a postseason game. The other? A 1-for-12 effort for San Antonio in 2013, also in Miami, the night the Heat won their third and most recent NBA title.
The Heat aren’t close to that yet. But they are two wins from the East finals.
”It’s not easy to get playoff wins.” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”We had some great stretches, particularly defensively. We had some really good stretches offensively. … Our defense really carried us to the win, but we had some really timely offensive plays.”
76ers: Harden got fouled on a 3-point try with 0.1 seconds left in the half, making all three free throws to get Philadelphia within 60-52 at the break. … Maxey got a cut on his right knee in the fourth quarter, the game stopping temporarily while the 76ers tended to him. He stayed in the game. … Georges Niang had another unusual stat line. He was 0 for 7 – all 3-pointers – in Game 1, then fouled out in 10 minutes of Game 2. It was the fourth-fewest minutes played all season by anyone who fouled out.
Heat: PJ Tucker turns 37 on Thursday. … It was the 497th consecutive sellout announced by the Heat, tying Sacramento for the fifth-longest streak in NBA history. The record is held by Dallas, which has 864 consecutive sellouts and counting. … Miami held a 44-34 rebounding edge.
With the win, Spoelstra’s postseason record improved to 91-59 (.607). Among coaches with at least 100 playoff games, he moved into fourth on the NBA’s win-percentage list behind only Steve Kerr (.732), Phil Jackson (.688) and Billy Cunningham (.629). The coach Spoelstra passed in winning percentage Wednesday night? That would be his boss, Heat President Pat Riley, who went 171-111 (.606).
The Kentucky ties ran deep Wednesday night. Wildcats coach John Calipari was at Game 2 to see Herro formally receive the Sixth Man award. Other former Kentucky players on the Heat and 76ers: Adebayo, Maxey and Heat two-way player Mychal Mulder. And Riley played at Kentucky.
Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.
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