Instant Observations: Maxey’s Fantastic Night Leads 76ers to Massive Win Over Heat

Instant Observations: Maxey’s Fantastic Night Leads 76ers to Massive Win Over Heat Apr 4, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) drives past Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith (24) during the second half at Kaseya Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (42-35) came away with a 109-105 win over the Miami Heat (42-34) in a chaotic contest on Thursday night down in South Beach.

Tyrese Maxey was fantastic for the Sixers, finishing with 37 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. Joel Embiid totaled 29 points and four rebounds. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with eight rebounds and two steals.

Tobias Harris (left knee contusion), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine bone stress), Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise/illness) and Mo Bamba (illness) were all out of the lineup for the Sixers. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Harris will likely miss another game or two after an MRI revealed a “bad bruise” in his knee.

The Sixers made a roster move prior to the start of this contest against the Heat. According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, the Sixers signed guard Jeff Dowtin Jr. to a contract for the remainder of the season. Dowtin, who was previously on a two-way contract, has played well in limited minutes. He is averaging 4.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 0.6 steals in 12.3 minutes per game.

Miami was led in the loss by 22 points from Terry Rozier. Jimmy Butler totaled 20 points, four rebounds and five assists. The Heat were without Tyler Herro (right foot medial tendinitis) and Josh Richardson (right shoulder surgery).

This game potentially carries massive implications in the standings. With the win, the Sixers evened up the season series against Miami at two games apiece. Philadelphia also now sits just a half game behind the Heat for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They also are one game behind the sixth place Indiana Pacers with five games left to play. If the Sixers can move up to the sixth seed, they will avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament.

The Sixers’ next contest is on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday evening. Here are some instant observations from the win over the Heat:


– The last time the Sixers had both Embiid and Maxey on the floor was back on Jan. 30. It is safe to say, but the Sixers are a way better team when they have their star duo together on the court. The Sixers opened up the game on a 17-2 run, with Embiid and Maxey accounting for 15 of those points. Maxey was unstoppable, particularly from beyond the arc. He had the step-back 3-pointer going in full force throughout the first quarter. At one point late in the quarter, he victimized Haywood Highsmith with a beautiful step-back triple.

When Maxey was not putting the ball in the basket, it was Embiid terrorizing the Miami defense. After setting multiple screens to free up his teammates for open looks in the first couple minutes, Embiid went to work as a scorer. He knocked down a flurry of mid-range jumpers while also scoring effectively around the rim. Embiid even made a floater, something rarely seen from him throughout his career.

Bam Adebayo has done a good job defending Embiid in recent seasons. However, for most of this game he was not able to do much to slow down the big fella. Embiid was in rhythm from the mid-range, and he also had the 3-pointer falling for much of the night. His production gradually dropped off as the game wore on, but that was largely due to running out of gas. He gave Sixers fans plenty of reason for optimism moving forward, and his play is only going to improve as he gets his legs under him.

While Embiid, in his second game back after a two-month absence, predictably ran out of gas late in the game, Maxey was there to pick up the slack. After using the 3-pointer to get off to a fast start, Maxey transitioned to attacking the basket. His speed and finishing ability is an impossible combination to stop. He made a handful of impressive shots at the rim over strong Miami defense. Maxey showcased his versatility in the fourth quarter, knocking down a wave of highly difficult mid-range jumpers. He did just enough to keep the Sixers offense afloat in the final minutes.

– For the second consecutive game, Oubre came up big for the Sixers late in the game. He scored seven points in the final four minutes against the Heat. His biggest bucket of the night came with less than two minutes remaining. He stole the ball away from Caleb Martin and discarded Butler at the rim before finishing the sequence with a layup.

If Oubre can continue to step up his play in the clutch moments, the Sixers are going to be an even more dangerous team heading into the postseason.


– The Sixers largely played good basketball against the Heat. However, they consistently collapsed in the final minute or two of each quarter. Cam Payne fell apart against Miami’s full-court pressure defense, committing two turnovers in the final 47 seconds of the first quarter. Miami capitalized, ending the opening frame on an 8-2 run.

Things were not much better at the end of the second quarter. Embiid, in the final seconds of the first half, attempted to throw a pass to the top of the key. Rozier intercepted it and proceeded to drill a 3-pointer as time expired. The Heat outscored Philadelphia 8-0 in the final 55 seconds of the first half.

The Sixers’ atrocious play at the end of quarters continued into the second half. Miami ended the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the Sixers were able to avoid yet another late-quarter collapse in the final frame. This game was much closer than it should have been. If the Sixers were able to avoid consistently falling apart late in the first three quarters, they would have likely won by double digits.

– Zone defense has often given the Sixers fits in recent seasons. That pattern continued against Miami, although it was a tale of two halves. The Sixers generally did a good job swinging the ball around and finding open shots against the zone in the first half. However, their open shots were just not falling. The results betrayed the good process the Sixers had against Miami’s zone defense in the first half. However, the same could not be said about their play in the second half. The Sixers spent far too many possessions tossing the ball back and forth at the top of the key while attempting to force feed the ball to Embiid around the free-throw line. When they did get the ball inside to Embiid, the Heat did a good job collapsing and forcing the ball out of his hands. Embiid also uncharacteristically missed a few jumpers from around the elbow against the zone defense.

Buddy Hield is borderline unplayable at this point. He is providing nothing offensively, failing to even take advantage of wide open 3-pointers he should be able to make in his sleep. His production against the Heat consisted of just two points and two rebounds in 12 minutes of action. After getting off to a red hot start to his Sixers tenure, his play ever since has been a massive disappointment.

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