The Philadelphia 76ers were in a do-or-die scenario on Thursday night. A victory in Game 6 forces a Game 7, which would’ve taken place in Miami this weekend.
A loss would end the Sixers’ season for good. At first, the Sixers looked like a team with urgency on Thursday night. While they didn’t shoot particularly great from the field, the Sixers kept the game close in the first quarter before outscoring the Heat in the second quarter.
By halftime, the Sixers trailed by one point. Several times in this year’s playoff run, the Sixers have looked like a second-half team. Unfortunately, Game 6 was not one of those occasions.
A flat performance in the second half allowed the Heat to gain a 16-point lead in the third quarter comfortably. And for the rest of the game, the Sixers were trying to claw their way back in. The start of the second half made all of the difference on the scoreboard on Thursday night, but Philadelphia’s head coach Doc Rivers believed his team’s offensive performance was poor all game long.
“Forget just the second half, we never got any offensive rhythm throughout the game, in my opinion, more than just the second half,” said Rivers after the game. “But the second half, the turnovers, the sloppy play, you know, just killed us. It really did.”
In the second half, the Sixers turned the ball over eight times, translating to 13 points for Miami. While several Sixers fought and played hard until the end, the effort was too little too late.
“You know, I just didn’t like how we played,” he continued. I didn’t like how we played last game, I didn’t like how we played tonight. I mean, I know what they have; I get that. You can visually see that athletically, and they’re big. And I just thought that I just thought we had more. I really did.”
The Sixers’ 99-90 loss to Miami officially ended their season in six games. As the Heat advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Sixers enter a critical offseason as they have some work to do ahead of next season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.
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