After a lackluster effort in Game 5, the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves down 3-2 to the Miami Heat.
A 120-85 blowout down in South Beach was the result of a lack of urgency and poor execution by the 76ers.
The home team has yet to drop a game this series as it heads back to Philadelphia for Game 6.
With their backs against the wall, Philly will need to show a bit more heart if they want to push the series to Game 7.
Otherwise, it will mean a fourth second-round playoff exit in five years.
But more heart is not the only thing the 76ers must display on Thursday.
Here are three things they must do to send the series back to Miami.
3. Make Some Shots
While it sounds simple, Philadelphia needs to start hitting their shots.
The 76ers shot 16-33 from deep in both wins this series, good for 48.5%.
Conversely, Miami shot 7-30 and 7-35 from three in those two games, good for just 21.5%.
However, Philadelphia shot a combined 23-96 – just 24% from beyond the arc in the three Philly losses.
Paired with a combined 36-98 (36.7%) from Miami, the 76ers comfortably lost the shooting battle.
Sixers missed 3s are killing them double because Miami is destroying them in early offense.
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) May 11, 2022
This is not to say that shooting is the only reason they are down 3-2 – there are plenty of other reasons for that.
Being a threat from deep not only puts points on the board but also draws attention away from Philly’s two stars.
Given the fact that Philly’s offense is almost exclusively run through those two, it causes major problems.
Suddenly, Embiid has no room to operate in the post or even receive an entry pass.
Harden, already hampered by his hamstring, is seeing two or even three bodies when trying to drive.
The 76er role players need to knock down open shots when presented the opportunity.
Not just to put points on the board, but to also free up space for their star teammates.
2. Better Execution
The other big issue from the Sixers’ three losses was the lack of execution, both offensively and defensively.
On offense in Game 5, the 76ers struggled to find open looks.
Miami fronted Embiid while shading a help defender between him and the basket.
That made any entry pass nearly impossible to make.
And instead of attempting to find a new angle or move off the ball to get the defense moving, the offense would stagnate.
Asking the Sixers to throw an entry pass when Embiid gets fronted is like asking them to do an advanced calculus problem.
— Roy Burton (@TheBSLine) May 10, 2022
Or even worse, commit a turnover.
There are ways to beat a defense that aggressively fronts the big man in the post.
The 76ers did not make any attempt to beat it and will need to do better in Game 6 to extend the series.
Philly was perhaps even worse defensively.
Their perimeter defenders were merely turnstiles Miami wings ran through on their way to the basket.
On picks and screens, the Sixers would too often concede a switch that would give Miami a mismatch.
Philly must do a better job at executing their defensive game plan on Thursday.
Tobias Harris must do a better job at fighting through screens to not allow a switch.
And perimeter defenders in general need to put some effort into not letting the Heat into the paint.
1. 76ers Must Show Some Heart
The 76ers went into the series with a severe problem.
Embiid suffered an orbital fracture and mild concussion that kept him out of the first two games.
Without their MVP-finalist, Philly kept it close through three quarters before falling apart late.
Harden has seemingly been bothered by a hamstring issue all year that has continued to slow him down against Miami.
He lacks that ability to create separation that made him a nightmare for opposing defenses.
And yet, through all of that, the 76ers entered Game 5 with the series tied, coming off a massive Game 4 win that saw Harden turn back the clock in the fourth quarter.
Philly had a chance to go down to Miami and set up a potentially series-ending Game 6 on their home court.
Instead, the 76ers came out flat and lifeless.
— Sixers Nation (@PHLSixersNation) May 11, 2022
They showed little desire to set up the close-out game at home and consistently got outworked by the Heat.
On both ends of the court.
To force a Game 7, the 76ers need to play with some heart and urgency – play like their season is on the line.
Because in Game 6, it is.NEXT: Doc Rivers Discusses Another Lack Of Effort