The party will continue in South Philadelphia! After winning Game 4 on Saturday afternoon in Miami, the Philadelphia 76ers returned home on Tuesday night for Game 5 with an opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sixers did not let the opportunity to clinch slip away as they defeated the Miami Heat 104-91 to win the series 4-1 and advance to the next round. It was a tightly contested game in the first half, but the Sixers were able to pull away thanks to big shots from J.J. Redick and Robert Covington in the second half.
Joel Embiid also made his home playoff debut on Tuesday night and did not disappoint fans at the Wells Fargo Center. How did Embiid do? Good question. Here’s more on that and other takeaways from the Sixers’ series-clinching victory.
1. Meek Mill gets released from prison
Before Tuesday night’s game started, there was a buzz in the air at the Wells Fargo Center as embattled rapper Meek Mill was released from the jail earlier in the day. The Philadelphia rapper, who has been in prison for five months due to violating his probation, became a symbol for how corrupt the criminal justice system is.
Mill got the Sixers’ faithful riled up as he rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell prior to tipoff, wearing a Joel Embiid jersey. It was a great way to welcome the rapper back home.
2. J.J. Redick gave the Sixers a boost in the scoring department
While all the attention was on Embiid and Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick played some huge minutes and made big shots down the stretch on Tuesday night.
The veteran sharpshooter led both teams in scoring with 27 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and 50 percent shooting from 3-point range. In the third quarter, Redick scored six early points to help the Sixers get some separation en route to a 34-point quarter.
Aforementioned, Redick had a great performance in Game 4. He led both teams’ starters in points with 24 points and was dialed in from the free-throw line, going a perfect 6-for-6.
3. Embiid shutdown Whiteside once again
Before this series began, I wrote about how Joel Embiid vs. Hassan Whiteside would be a battle to watch in the low post. The big men have a long-standing feud with each other, stemming back to the preseason.
Nevertheless, Embiid got the last laugh on Tuesday night. The All-star center got to work on the defensive end, forcing Whiteside to miss a couple of easy shots in the paint early in the first quarter.
Then on the offensive side, Embiid took it to Whiteside, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the first half. With Whiteside not bringing anything to the table, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra had to lean on the combination of Kelly Olynyk and Bam Abedayo.
Embiid finished the game with a double-double consisting of 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Whiteside had a despicable 2 points, 5 rebounds, and a -14 rating.