Jimmy Butler scored 32 points and waved goodbye to the Philadelphia crowd when he sent the Miami Heat to the Eastern Conference finals with a 99-90 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night in Game 6.
The Heat will play the winner of the Milwaukee-Boston series. The defending champion Bucks lead that series 3-2, with Game 6 on Friday night in Milwaukee.
The Heat reached the conference finals for the second time in three seasons, again with Butler in the lead. Philadelphia fans, and many within the 76ers organization, still can’t believe the franchise let Butler escape after the 2019 season. He didn’t mince words and scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the third quarter. when the Heat used a 16-2 run to take control.
Joel Embiid, the NBA scoring champion, scored 20 points for Philadelphia on 7-of-24 shooting.
Coming off a 35-point victory in Game 5, the Heat wore down a battered Sixers team. Embiid looked gassed as he valiantly tried to carry the Sixers. He had little lift and Bam Adebayo blocked a jump shot in the third.
The Sixers parted ways with Butler in large part because they chose Ben Simmons over him. Simmons wasn’t happy and forced a trade this season to Brooklyn for James Harden. Harden, a three-time scoring champion, was supposed to carry Embiid for a powerful postseason push. Harden, on the other hand, almost disappeared in the playoffs. He had a fantastic Game 4 at home against Miami, but was otherwise a turnover machine. When he fumbled another ball that led to a Heat basket and an 80-63 lead in the fourth, the Sixers were booed off the court.
Harden scored all of his 11 points in the first half. He had four turnovers and four baskets.
Few in Philadelphia would give The Beard a passing grade.
Coach Doc Rivers implored his team to "fight for this!"in the group during the quarter. The 76ers just fell apart.
The Heat are excited with an NBA championship still on the line. Max Strus had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Even another abysmal night from 3-point range (Miami missed 21 of 28 attempts) didn’t matter.