Sixers punch ticket to playoffs with narrow win over Heat, will face Knicks next

Keith Pompey, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

PHILADELPHIA — The 76ers are recognized as a championship-contending team with Joel Embiid.

Perhaps that’s what added to the excitement of Wednesday night’s achievement. With Embiid back on the floor, the Sixers took their first step toward what they hope is a long postseason run.

They punched their ticket to their seventh straight playoff appearance with a 105-104 win over the Miami Heat in their play-in tournament game on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Embiid finished with 23 points and a game high 15 rebounds while making 9 of 10 foul shots. But on this night, Nico Batum was the hero.

The reserve power forward made 6 of 10 clutch 3-pointers while finishing with 20 points. He also perhaps made the game-saving defensive play, blocking Tyler Herro’s 3-pointer with 24.7 seconds left. Then he wisely let Herro take an uncontested 3-pointer right before the final buzzer that pulled the Heat within one point. If Batum would have fouled him, Herro could have tied the game with a basket and made free throw.

The Sixers will face the East’s second-seeded New York Knicks in the first round as the seventh seed. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series will be 6 p.m. Saturday at Madison Square Garden.


The Sixers will worry about that in the coming days. On Wednesday, they were celebrating a thrilling victory.

Tyrese Maxey finished with 19 points and six assists.

Herro paced the Heat with a game-high 25 points, while Jimmy Butler added 19. Bam Adebayo had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

However, Embiid was lackluster on the offensive end. He made 6 of 17 shots.


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