PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid got a shot in the face that not even his mask helped him absorb. He fell on the field and stayed on the field in pain until he could calm down.
For Embiid and the Sixers, Game 5 could have been worse in many ways.
The Heat’s 35-point victory pushed them to the brink of a series victory. Embiid was completely devastated. his thumb. his eyes.
Add a scarred self.
NBA scoring champion Embiid is eager to award Denver’s Nikola Jokic the MVP award for the second straight season. Embiid reached the MVP final for the second straight season, but again failed to capture the NBA’s top regular-season individual honor.
“That was two years in a row I put myself in that position,” Embiid said. “It didn’t happen. It was almost like at this point, what it was. Last year, I campaigned for it. This year, when I was asked, I answered the question. Over the next few years, until I retired and for me, I don’t know what else I need to do to win it. It doesn’t matter. It’s about focus, it’s not that I’m not focused on the bigger picture, it’s really time to put all my energy Really getting into the bigger picture, which is winning the whole game.”
Wait, retire in a few years?
Okay, that’s the talk of the future, or at least the end of the season, and it could be on the Sixers as early as Thursday night. The Heat went 3-2 after winning Game 5. The Phoenix Suns also led the Dallas Mavericks 3-2 with a 30-point fifth win.
The good news for the Sixers and Mavericks is that Game 6 is at home.
Percentages are not good for them.
Teams in NBA history that won Game 5 with a 3-2 series lead ended up advancing 82.2 percent of the time.
Embiid and the Sixers, Luka Doncic and the Mavericks hoped to avoid elimination and win Game 7 and advance to the Western Conference finals.
The home team won both series. The Suns lost the Finals last season.
“At a certain point, it just came down to grit. Wanted,” Suns guard Chris Paul said.
The Heat lead 3-2. Game 6. 7 p.m. ESPN
– Need to Know: Blowout City. The Sixers lost Game 1 by 14, Game 2 by 16 and Game 3 by 35. oops. How low can they go if they lose to Miami again? If the Heat take an early double-digit lead, keep an eye on the Sixers. Will they let the game get out of hand or fight and force a Game 7?
– Keep an eye out for: James Harden. “The Beard” showed off a sensational Game 4 in Game 5 that was less the foundation of the playoffs than the aberration of his brief tenure with the Sixers. Harden had 46 turnovers in the playoffs and a loss of 29 in Game 5.
Damage Watch: Easy. Embiid. If injuries continue to wear down the center, the Heat will likely win the series. History shows that Miami will win in a blowout.
– Pressure on: Let’s flip a coin. Head, 76ers. Tails, 76ers. Hey, it’s the 76ers! If you lose, the season is over. Win, maybe, just maybe, a healthy Sixers team can win Game 7 on the road. After all, the Hawks did it against Philadelphia in the second round last season.
Suns at Mavericks
The Suns lead 3-2. Game 6. 9:30 p.m. ESPN
– Need to know: The Mavericks have been sloppy. Dallas had a season-low nine assists in Game 5 and an incredible 12 turnovers in the third quarter (33-14) to decide Game 5 and ultimately the series. The Suns led 17-0 in the quarter.
– Keep an eye on: Doncic. His 3-point shooting was poor again (1-for-10, 2-for-8 in Game 4). The difference is that he assisted on 8 of Dallas’ 20 3-pointers in Game 4. He had 11 assists in Game 4 and two in Game 5.
– Injury Watch: Suns forward Tory Craig (right elbow contusion) is available for Game 5.
– Pressure on: Dallas. The supporting cast let Dallas down again, or Dallas failed to get them involved. Doncic and Jalen Brunson combined for 40 shots. There are only 16 secondary scorers that are so important in various victories combined. Spencer Dinwiddie’s struggles continue. Without Doncic in the regular season, he played well in a few games, including the first three games against Utah. Since then, he’s averaging 8.5 points on 34 percent shooting.
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