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Sports

76ers squeak past Heat to seize No. 7 NBA playoff seed

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
76ers squeak past Heat to seize No. 7 NBA playoff seed
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 17: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots over Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat during the first quarter of the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament at the Wells Fargo Center on April 17, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philadelphia 76ers punched their ticket to the NBA Playoffs after escaping the Miami Heat, 105-104, Thursday morning (Manila time) at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid struggled from the field but still poured in 23 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Veteran Nic Batum provided quality minutes with 20 points, five rebounds and a huge block to help give the Sixers the No. 7 playoff seed.

Embiid came up big in the fourth quarter as Philadelphia came back from a 14-point first quarter deficit, scoring 11 points in the frame.

After trailing big in the first half, the Sixers finally took the lead in the final canto with a 3-pointer by Batum.

The game then turned into a nip-and-tuck affair as the two teams traded leads down the stretch.

With the contest tied at 96 with 1:30 to go following a Haywood Highsmith floater, Kelly Oubre Jr. completed a crucial and-one play that gave Philly a 99-96 lead with 36 ticks left.

On the other end, Tyler Herro, who has been carrying the offensive load for Miami, attempted a 3-pointer. It was, however, blocked by Batum.

A pair of free throws by Tyrese Maxie gave the Sixers a much-needed five-point advantage, 101-96, with 25 seconds remaining, which they would protect until the end.

Highsmith, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Herro tried to keep the Heat alive, but their efforts came up short.

Maxey and Oubre added 19 and 11 points for the Sixers, respectively.

Herro led Miami with 25 points, nine assists and two rebounds. Jimmy Butler had an all-around performance of 19 points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds, but he grimaced in pain several times in the game due to an apparent foot injury.

Miami started the game hot, going up by 14 points, 51-37, in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, though, the Sixers slowly rallied back and cut the lead to two multiple times. They were able to overtake the Heat in the fourth quarter, setting up the cardiac finish.

The Sixers will be facing the second-seeded New York Knicks in the postseason, while the Heat will face the winner of the match between number nine Chicago Bulls and number 10 Atlanta Hawks.

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