For the last two matchups, the Philadelphia 76ers have been missing a good chunk of their roster. On Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, the Sixers had just seven players available to play -- with Danny Green being the only starter.
On Monday, Joel Embiid and Mike Scott returned to the lineup to face the Atlanta Hawks, but their presence wasn't enough to avoid a second-straight blowout loss. So, the Sixers went into Tuesday night's game in South Philly on a three-game losing streak looking for a way to bounce back.
For the first time since losing a good chunk of their roster due to COVID-19 health and safety protocol concerns, the Sixers finally faced another team that was dealing with similar issues. Meanwhile, the Sixers had another starter back in the mix as the injured Ben Simmons was cleared for action after missing the last two games.
With nine players out, the Miami Heat were more of a favorable matchup for the shorthanded Sixers on Tuesday night. Despite being without key players such as Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, and more, the Heat came out ready to compete at a high level on Tuesday night in Philly.
In the first quarter, the Sixers shot much better to start than they did on Monday night. As they got off to a 28-25 lead, the 76ers knocked down 40-percent of their shots from the field and averaged 35-percent from three. Veteran forward Mike Scott led Philly in scoring as he totaled for ten points through nearly 11 minutes of action.
While Philly looked like they were going to be able to control the matchup from the jump, the Sixers really struggled to click in the second quarter on both ends of the floor. Miami ended up shooting lights out before going into the half as they put up 65-percent of their shots from the field and knocked down eight of their ten attempted threes. After a poor second-quarter showing, the Sixers were outscored 38-27 and went into halftime trailing by eight points.
Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid must've felt the urgency in the third quarter. On Monday, when the Sixers faced the Hawks, they lost control at the start of the third, and Sixers head coach Doc Rivers ended Embiid's night early as a result. On Tuesday, the opposite happened. Embiid activated his MVP-caliber self and played like a possessed man for the nine minutes he clocked in coming out of the half.
During that time, Embiid went eight for eight from the field and knocked down all four of his foul shots. As the Sixers accounted for 41 points to get ahead of Miami in the third quarter, Embiid was responsible for 20 of those points.
Although the All-Star big man dominated and helped the Sixers get ahead, the Heat weren't willing to just roll over. When Embiid was off the floor, Miami found a way to keep it competitive and gave Philly a stiff challenge heading into the final quarter.
The Sixers and Heat remained neck and neck in the fourth quarter. As the Sixers shot slightly better from the field, the Heat still managed to outscore Philly in the final period making it tough for the Sixers to pull away. Not to mention, Sixers starting guard Ben Simmons failed out with a few minutes still left on the clock.
While the game was coming down to the wire, it looked like Miami had a real edge. As the Sixers trailed five points with less than 24 seconds left to go in the game, 76ers rookie Isaiah Joe hit a deep three-point shot to get the Sixers back within two.
Seconds later, veteran Danny Green picked up a steal to get the ball back in Philly's hands, which eventually led to a textbook Embiid jump shot to tie the game up with three seconds left to go in regulation. That sequence sent the game into overtime.
Once the Sixers went into OT, Joel Embiid mirrored his third-quarter performance and looked unstoppable on both ends. While he got a little help from his teammates, notably the two-way guard Dakota Mathias, who hit a big-time three late in the game, Embiid was easily the star of the night.
With nearly 40 minutes of total action on Tuesday, Joel Embiid played his most dominant game of the season as he drained 45 points for the Sixers. His efforts led Philly to a big 137-134 win over the Heat in overtime. With that victory, the Sixers move to 8-4 on the year.