January 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Heat center Omer Yurtseven (77) dunks during the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat will hope Friday’s wins will provide momentum rather than depleted energy levels when they meet Saturday night in South Florida.
Eastern Conference contenders shrugged off serious challenges on Friday, with the 76ers repelling the visiting Boston Celtics 111-99, while the host Heat rallied against the Atlanta Hawks 124-118.
Philadelphia will be aiming for a ninth win in its last 10 games and Miami a fifth straight when the clubs, who have met twice in the Eastern playoffs in the past 10 years, meet for the second time this season.
The Heat prevailed in the previous encounter 101-96 despite the absence of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Starting with Dewayne Dedmon at center, Miami held Joel Embiid to 17 points and led Gabe Vincent’s 26 points to victory in the lead.
Miami got 23 points from Butler, 12 from Dedmon in a backup role and a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds from new starting center Omer Yurtseven in Friday’s win over Atlanta, completing a two-game sweep over the Hawks.
Yurtseven’s undrafted double-double continued his unlikely run for NBA Rookie of the Year honors. He’s had 10 or more rebounds in each of his last 13 games and double-digit points in seven of his last nine.
“He’s been a monster for us lately,” boasted Butler.
Yurtseven, who played a total of just 35 minutes in Miami’s first 20 games, contributed five points, four assists and three rebounds in 12 minutes as a substitute for Dedmon in the road win over the 76ers.
Embiid hasn’t been held even close to 17 points in 12 games since. His 25 points in Friday’s win over the Celtics were his second fewer since the Miami game, a streak in which he averaged 31.9 points.
Partly due to a big early lead and the fact that the 76ers were playing for the first time in two nights, Embiid stayed on the field with just 32 minutes against the Celtics. The resulting 25 points broke an eight-game 30-point streak, which tied a franchise record shared by Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson.
Embiid had eight of his 25 points in the first 1:34 of the game, in which the 76ers took a 26-12 lead and never looked back.
“I was aware of it, but I really wasn’t chasing it,” Embiid said of his opportunity to grab the record all to himself. “I don’t think I tried to force-feed and tried to get shot. The main goal tonight was to get the win.
The win may have come at a cost to the 76ers, who lost defensive ace Matisse Thybulle to a shoulder injury. The club was already without Shake Milton, with a bad back.
Meanwhile, the Heat remain without Adebayo, who hopes to return from thumb surgery later this month. He only faced Embiid once last season, holding the 76ers star to six points in a home win at Miami in May.
Embiid scored 45 points in a home win over the Heat last season, a game in which Miami launched Precious Achiuwa to center.
Miami has won its last four home games against Philadelphia since November 2018. The four wins averaged 16.8 points.
–Field level media