The Miami Heat defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 120-85 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Tuesday to take a 3-2 series lead.
After winning back-to-back games on their home floor to even up this series at 2-2, the Philadelphia 76ers looked like they owned all the momentum in this Eastern Conference Semifinals series over the Miami Heat.
In Game 5 though, the Heat quickly reminded everyone that they are the 1-seed in the East for a reason, as they defeated the 76ers 120-85 on Tuesday night.
The only time the 76ers led in this game was after Joel Embiid made the first basket of the game. From that point on, this game was controlled and locked up by the Heat because of the contributions they got from everyone not named Jimmy Butler.
In Philadelphia the last two games, Butler had combined to score 73 points, but the rest of the team really struggled to get involved on the offensive-end of the floor.
On Tuesday night, Butler finished with a game-high 23 points, but Max Strus stepped up with 19 points, Gabe Vincent had 15 points, Victor Oladipo had 13 points off-the-bench and the list of contributions goes on and on for them.
Miami had seven different players score at least 10 points in Game 5 and their starting-five combined to score 79 points in this one.
As for Philadelphia, Joel Embiid and James Harden could not get anything to go their way all night long and the Sixers as a whole just did not look ready to play.
Now having their backs up against the wall, the 76ers face a tough challenge of having to win Game 6 on Thursday to even this series and then having to go on the road and win in Miami, something they have not done in the postseason.
Looking back on what happened in Game 5, here are the three biggest takeaways from this game.
In Games 3 and 4 of this series, Joel Embiid did not play up to the standards that we are used to seeing, but he made his presence felt and was obviously bothered by both his orbital fracture and thumb injury.
On Tuesday night though, Embiid had no sense of urgency to his game and after diving into the stands on the baseline to try and save a loose ball, the All-Star center appeared to look sluggish the rest of the game and it seemed like he was bothered by a handful of ailments.
Injury-wise, Embiid is severely dinged up right now and him playing in this series is a testament to his toughness and willingness to compete.
However, Joel Embiid does not look like he is mentally ready to play and the 76ers as a whole feed off of his energy each and every game.
When Embiid is playing well, the 76ers are generally playing well. When he is not knocking down shots and not hustling, they are not hitting anything and Philadelphia’s effort as a whole just is not there right now.
Joel Embiid is the leader of the 76ers and with both physical and mental fatigue catching up to him from injuries, plus the fact that he was not MVP this year, it truly looks like he does not have anything left in the tank, which is bad news for the Sixers.
The Heat have more depth and more energy than the 76ers do right now, which is a key reason why they will most likely take this series.
There is a saying in the NBA that “no playoff series begins until a team wins on the road,” and as we are seeing this season, this is absolutely true.
Home court matters a lot more than many people think and for some weird reason, role players just tend to play better in front of their fans.
In this series, no team has lost on their home floor and while the Heat have struggled in their two games up in Philadelphia, their bench and second-unit has looked like the best in the league down in Miami.
Look at Game 5 for example.
Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker combined to score 57 of the Heat’s 120 total points, giving them a huge edge throughout the game.
In Games 3 and 4, these four players combined to average 24.5 points per game. It is not a coincidence that these types of players have stepped up on their home floor and this is a trend that we have seen all throughout the NBA Playoffs this year.
The Miami Heat are a perfect example of why playing on your home floor matters in the playoffs and even if they lose on the road in Game 6 to the 76ers, they will own the edge in this series heading into Game 7 simply because they own home court advantage.
Scoring the basketball is great and we have seen offense flourish during the regular season, but the one constant that remains in the NBA is that defense matters, especially in the playoffs.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a terrific defensive team, as are the Miami Heat. Both teams have played really well defensively at home in this series and whichever team digs deeper on that end of the floor will win Game 6 and possibly this series.
All five games in this Eastern Conference Semifinals series have been decided by defensive effort and while both offenses can get going, these two teams have built their identity all year long on the defensive-side of the court.
In Game 5, the Heat scored 120 points, which is great, but what is ever better is the fact that they held the 76ers to just 85 points. Looking back on Philadelphia’s 20 point victory in Game 3, they held the Heat to just 79 total points.
Getting stops defensively and being able to dictate the pace of play winds up resulting in points on the offensive-end of the floor, which is why whoever plays with more effort and intensity on defense in Game 6 will win the game and for the Heat, they could possibly go on to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Brett Siegel joined FastBreak on Fan Nation in April 2022 after previously covering the NBA for NBA Analysis Network and working with Louisville Basketball, aiding in daily operations, scouting and recruiting. From playing to coaching to covering the game as a credentialed NBA media member, Brett has been involved with the game of basketball from many different perspectives. Breaking the news of Andre Drummond signing with the Lakers in 2021, as well as other key stories around the league, Brett is always on the phone, getting the latest news and rumors around the NBA. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @BrettSiegelNBA.