Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Heat lose Play-In bout in crunch time to 76ers in Philadelphia

The Heat’s quest to upstage the hosting 76ers in the Play-In Tournament was another late failed effort after taking control of the first half.

Terry Rozier (neck) was unavailable for the Heat. The 76ers were absent De’Anthony Melton (back).

Joel Embiid attacked Bam Adebayo early, forcing two early fouls in the post and on a drive. Next, Kevin Love subbed in for him as the Heat was down six points.

Butler guarded Tyrese Maxey and dunked twice on the break after steals plus downed two freebies within the first eight minutes.

Tyler Herro matched up with former Heatle Kyle Lowry and got loose for a pair of floaters- one dribbling into the paint against Embiid and another in transition.

Yet, the host causing the most damage was Maxey. He rattled in a tray and finished twice in the paint.

Eventually, the Heat deployed its 2-3 zone, then had its 2-2-1 press, taking time off the clock, leading into the scheme. And the guests took their first lead of the night with 28 seconds left in the frame after going behind by eight points.

But in the closing moments of the first, Butler went down after being fouled by Kelly Oubre and held his right knee on the ground. Pat Riley and Alonzo Mourning uncomfortably watched from their seats, and coach Erik Spoelstra looked like he’d seen a ghost.

Butler made one of two and limped to the bench.

But he stayed on the floor to start the second quarter and the Heat was still in zone defense.

Embiid and Maxey combined for one of seven baskets and Paul Reed was the lone 76er to make multiple in the second quarter.

Butler and Herro were no better on offense, but Adebayo bailed them out, catching a lob and hitting a jumper over Embiid. Subsequently, Caleb Martin, Love and Herro each hit a triple at the end of half, closing it on a 9-2 run.

The 76ers fans booed their team as it retreated to the locker room, and the Heat led 51-39 at halftime but was down on the glass by five. The squad also had 24 paint points, 11 on the break, eight via second chances, 17 after turnovers and 21 from the bench.

The 76ers had 18 interior points, six on the break, five on extra tries, two after turnovers, and seven from the reserves.

Then the Heat had another turd quarter experience. The group converted eight of 22 baskets against man coverage and the zone and its defense was solved.

On the other side, Nicolas Batum supplied three trifectas off Philly’s bench, and Buddy Hield added seven points.

The fourth began with the Heat above 74-69, but the hosts tied it up quickly and briefly seized the lead two minutes later.

Jaime Jaquez’s dunk through the middle and Haywood Highsmith’s floater on the left were two significant late baskets.

With Butler playing as a decoy, Herro was the only dependable on-ball scoring option. The latter put up 16 points, but when the team was down three with 28 seconds left, he had his triple blocked by Batum on the right side.

Highsmith instantly fouled Maxey and the free throw formality ensued.

Embiid, Batum and Oubre united for six of 13 baskets to close the game.

The Heat lost 104-105, gave up two extra rebounds, and committed two fewer turnovers. On top of that, the crew had 46 paint points, 13 on the break, 20 via second chances, 22 after turnovers and 40 from the bench.

Herro logged 25 points on nine of 27 tries, with two rebounds, nine assists and five turnovers. Butler had 19 points on 27.8% accuracy, with four rebounds, five assists and five steals. And Jaquez tallied 15 on his scoring ledger and picked up five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

The 76ers had 42 interior points, 11 in the open court, 15 on extra tries, 16 after turnovers and 36 from the reserves.

Embiid notched 23 points on six of 17 attempts, with 15 rebounds, five assists and three turnovers. Batum had 20 points, making 58.3% of his looks, with five rebounds and a block. And Maxey scored 19 on 16 attempts, with three rebounds, six assists and three turnovers.

At the postgame presser, Spoelstra said, “When you have a double-digit lead and a three-point lead going down the stretch, we just have to figure out a way to finish those games off.”

Spoelstra said Butler’s injury would be further checked out in Miami. 

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