Heat pushes past 76ers 99-90, advance to Eastern Conference finals – The Denver Post

For the sixth time in 12 seasons and the second in three years, the Miami Heat are in the Eastern Conference finals.

Without a detour to a Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Heat seized control in the third quarter, pushing past the 76ers 99-90 on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center to finish the Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinals 4-2.

“It’s not everything, but it’s something,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of completing the second step of the four rounds needed for a championship. “You want to recognize the steps along the way. This is not easy.”

After ravaging the 76ers’ home turf twice earlier in the series, this time the Heat didn’t quite silence the Philadelphia audience, but they did create a cascade of boos that started at the start of the third quarter and from there. kept going.

Even the 76ers recognized that they were no match for the task.

“I came to the conclusion at the end of this game that we weren’t good enough to beat Miami,” said 76ers coach Doc Rivers.

Next up for the Heat is the East Semifinal winner, which leads the Milwaukee Bucks 3-2 against the Boston Celtics, entering Game 6 in Milwaukee on Friday.

“This was one of the goals we’ve been working towards all year,” said striker Jimmy Butler, who led the Heat by 32 points. “But we realize that the job is not yet finished.”

Despite all the woes of the 76ers, from the facial fracture that kept Joel Embiid sidelined for the first two games of the series to the knee injury that sidelined Philadelphia forward Danny Green early in Thursday’s game, the Heat overcame their own adversity and won last two games of the series with point guard Kyle Lowry reduced to spectator due to a hamstring injury.

“What this team has shown over the year,” said Spoelstra, “is that you can find different solutions to win.”

Butler maintained his solid playoff game, hoisting 29 shots and also grabbing eight rebounds, with Max Strus continuing his playoff rise, with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Heat also got 10 points and eight rebounds from the center of Bam Adebayo, who put up a solid defense against Embiid.

Embiid scored 20 for the 76ers, but did it on 7-of-24 shooting. Otherwise, there were 20 points from Tyrese Maxey, 14 from Tobias Harris and 11 from James Harden, but little of lasting substance for Philadelphia.

“It’s been a crazy year, but it’s been a fun year,” said Heat power-forward PJ Tucker, who closed with 12 points and nine rebounds, “just because we’ve had so much setback all year.”

Five degrees of heat from Thursday’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat led 28-25 after the first quarter and 49-48 at the break. A run of 23-4 in the third quarter then pushed the lead to 16, before the 76ers closed in 74-63 and went into fourth.

About the third quarter, Maxey of the 76ers said, “We couldn’t get stops and we couldn’t score.”

The 76ers later narrowed a Heat lead from 20 points to 11 with 2:47 left, before Gabe Vincent, who came in for Lowry, converted a 3-pointer with 2:21 left.

“The challenges only get bigger from here on,” said Spoelstra.

After the game, the Heat announced that individual game tickets for their Eastern Conference Finals home games will go on sale to the general public at 4 p.m. Friday.

There is a limit of four tickets per household, per game.

Fans can buy home games 1, 2, 3 and 4. Home games 3 and 4 are only played when necessary.

2. Declaration made: Butler scored nine points in the first 5:01 of the game and then went scoreless for the remainder of the first half.

He then scored 13 runs in a 19-4 Heat start of the third period. He finished the third with 14 in the quarter, 21 before the game.

“I’m here for a reason,” Butler said. “We’re going to ride this wave.”

Butler’s 17th run put him past Mark Aguirre for 85th on the NBA all-time playoff scoring list, and his 22nd put him past Joe Dumars for 84th.

“If he sees the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Spoelstra, “it will stop.”

Tucker said, “I didn’t know how good a player he was until I came here.”

3. Subtle Sparkle: It had been an irritable few days for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra when it came to questions about Adebayo’s stats. Thursday was another night when the figures from the Heat center hardly told the most substantive story.

Defensively aggressive while often providing one-on-one cover against Embiid, Adebayo was relentless with his efforts.

Adebayo said the satisfaction came from helping slow Embiid.

“I just gave him a hard time,” he said, “and that was the biggest emphasis on the series when he came back.”

Contrary to Spoelstra’s measured approach with Adebayo, it was Embiid of bust for the 76ers, with Embiid playing all but 92 seconds over three periods. A 97 second rest followed before Embiid returned in the fourth quarter and made a three point attempt.

4. Stress, Again: After an uneven start to the series, Strus continued his attempt of 19 points in Game 5 with 16 in the top of Thursday.

Strus led off 3 of 5 on 3-pointers, with the rest of the Heat 1 of 10 from outside the arc in the first half (a Butler 3-pointer).

Strus hit the boards again, finishing with his second playoff in his second career, a double-double in as many games.

As he left the interview room after the game, Butler introduced Strus as a double-double machine.

When asked what it was like to be a double-double machine, Strus smiled and said, “It’s new to me.”

Just like a trip to the Eastern Conference finals.

“It’s one of the biggest moments, not just in my career, but in my life,” he said.

5. Compromised Start: The 76ers lost just 3:06 to a knee injury to Green for the night.

That forced Matisse Thybulle into the game, who was then quickly called for two errors, followed by Shake Milton.

Thybulle opened the second half in place of Green, who had tormented the Heat in Philadelphia’s previous two home games in the series with his 10-for-13 3-point shot. Green converted his only 3-point attempt before leaving on Thursday.

“Not good,” Rivers said of Green’s injury.

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