The Miami Heat defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Christmas Day in a matchup missing several key players. The Heat moved to 9-0 all-time on Christmas with the win.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. Leads Heat with 31 Points
Sophomore Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Heat on 11-17 shooting, including 4-7 from three (source). He became the third-youngest player to score 30+ points on Christmas day.
“You’ve just got to stay ready,” Jaquez said. “Not having our best players, other guys had to step up.” (source)
In addition to Jaquez’s efforts, Victor Oladipo scored 20 points while Kyle Lowry had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
Embiid, Butler Out with Injuries
“It’s part of the NBA landscape. We want everyone playing all the time,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said pregame. “This was such an anomaly during our run the last three years. I don’t remember going through many of these.” (source)
Without their stars, both teams had to rely on their supporting casts to step up.
|Key Players Stepping Up
|Jaime Jaquez Jr. (31 pts)
Victor Oladipo (20 pts)
|Tyrese Maxey (27 pts, 5 ast)
Tyrese Maxey Struggles Despite 27 Points
In Embiid’s absence, Tyrese Maxey stepped up as the Sixers’ lead scorer with 27 points. However, he struggled mightily with his shot, going just 8-24 from the field and 2-9 from three (source).
“It happens in the league sometimes when you just can’t find it,” Maxey said. “Shots I normally hit, shots I work on, shots I’m comfortable with, they just weren’t going down.” (source)
In addition to his shooting woes, Maxey also posted a career-high 6 turnovers. He scored just 9 points in the second half.
Sixers Rally from 21 Down Before Falling Short
Despite missing Embiid and struggling from their top scorer, the Sixers refused to quit. After falling behind by 21 points in the first half, Philadelphia used an 11-1 run in the third quarter to cut the lead to single digits. They would trim the lead all the way down to one possession in the final period before Miami held on for the win.
James Harden neared a triple-double with 19 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds for the Sixers. Tobias Harris added 17 points while De’Anthony Melton had 11.
What This Means Going Forward
With the win, the Heat improved to 19-13 on the season while snapping a three-game losing streak. After a slow start, Erik Spoelstra’s squad seems to be finding itself amid a variety of lineup fluctuations. Miami continues to prove it can win with any combination of players.
“This is when we’re at our best, when we have to shuffle lineups and we just figure things out on the fly,” Spoelstra said. “And there were some brilliant stretches of that competitiveness and togetherness.” (source)
For the Sixers, the loss drops them to 19-12 as they now face having to play multiple games without Embiid. With Harden already playing through injury issues, Philadelphia will need increased production from its role players if its stars cannot return soon.
“We saw last year when Joel was out that it’s tough for us to win basketball games,” coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “You still have to be prepared for that possibility. But just keep plugging away.” (source)
The Sixers continue their road trip with games against the Pelicans and Rockets this week. The Heat have opened a six-game homestand, facing the Timberwolves and Lakers up next. With roster uncertainty for both teams, the coming games will prove challenging.
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