After winning the first two games at home, the Miami Heat dropped Game 3 in Philadelphia.
What could have been a commanding 3-0 series lead morphed into a potentially competitive series.
Turns out, Joel Embiid not playing for the Philadelphia 76ers makes a difference.
While Embiid was not as dominant as he was this season, his presence was still felt on both ends of the court.
HEAT/SIXERS Game 4: Sun. 8pm/et on TNT pic.twitter.com/zRqGmTR5tU
— NBA (@NBA) May 7, 2022
The attention of both teams now turns to Game 4.
Miami will attempt to go up 3-1 while Philly will try to even the series 2-2 before heading back to South Beach.
The Heat had every reason to feel confident heading north after the first two games.
Should they now be worried?
Heat Need to Overcome Embiid
The Sixers finally had a few threes fall in Game 3 but Embiid was clearly the difference-maker.
His impact on both sides of the court, but especially defensively, gave Philly the edge over Miami.
The most glaring example of that was the play of Bam Adebayo.
After going for a combined 47 points, 21 rebounds, and 7 assists in the first two games, he was held to just 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in Game 3.
bam adebayo struggled tonight while being guarded by joel embiid instead of deandre jordan
the sixers cut the series to 2-1 🔥 pic.twitter.com/smcTIgpvGP
— buckets (@buckets) May 7, 2022
Adebayo was simply too athletic for De’Andre Jordan and too experienced for Paul Reed.
But matching up against a player of Embiid’s caliber greatly limited his impact.
Offensively, Embiid was less noticeable but still caused problems for the Heat defense.
The attention he drew, despite shooting 5-12 from the field, opened things for the rest of the team.
Harden found more driving lanes and the role players made some open threes.
Embiid’s return is a cause for concern for the Heat, but should not make them overly worried.
He is still clearly not close to 100%, but coach Erik Spoelstra will need to gameplan for the big man.
Poor Shooting Night
Another reason Miami should not worry too much is the drastic change in shooting.
After going a combined 14-64 in games one and two, Philly splashed 16 of their 33 triples in Game 3.
Miami went 23-65 in games one and two before going just 7-30 in Game 3.
This is not to say Miami was lighting it up the first two games.
Their 23-65 was inflated by a 14-29 showing in Game 2.
But their shot quality has been consistently good and they simply missed shots in Game 3 that they typically will make.
Tonight sucked. The offense was just awful.
Nothing I saw worries me big pic
Danny Green has his season high in points. Lol.
Heat shooting 23% from 3. Won’t happen again.
Sixers 48.5% from 3 after shooting 23% combined Gm 1 & 2
Won’t happen again.
Heat in 5.
— Greg Sylvander (@GregSylvander) May 7, 2022
Those two went a combined 12-15 from deep while the rest of the team went 4-18.
Unless Green and Maxey continue to shoot the lights out the rest of this series, the Heat should hold the edge from the perimeter.
Miami In Good Position
Overall, the Miami Heat have no reason to worry quite yet.
The return of Embiid will be impactful.
But he is not 100% healthy and struggled at times on the offensive end in his return.
Miami is consistently generating good looks from beyond the arc and those shots will eventually start to fall.
If Green and Maxey continue to shoot 80% on good volume from three the Heat could be in trouble, but they are both likely to cool off.
Spoelstra is a smart coach who has been here before.
He will undoubtedly make adjustments to limit Embiid’s impact on both ends of the court.
And Jimmy Butler will assuredly continue to step up.
The Heat still have home-court advantage in the series so unless they lose Game 5 in Miami, they have no reason to worry.