What a game!
The Miami Heat held their nerve to secure a 117-116 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime, but it was far from straight forward.
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Jimmy Butler led the charge with 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, one of seven payers in double figures. Goran Dragic (19) and Tyler Herro (16) combined for 35 points off the bench, both coming up with some clutch plays down the stretch as the Heat escaped for their sixth overtime win of the season.
Joel Embiid poured in 35 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, while Josh Richardson added 17 points, Ben Simmons 15 and Tobias Harris 12.
Here are the key takeaways from today's game.
A showstopping finish!
Jimmy Butler's free throw put the Heat up with 2.3 seconds remaining to ice the game as the Heat outscored the 76ers 9-8 in the extra period, but the events leading up to the finish were nothing short of wild.
Let's start late in the fourth quarter.
After Embiid drained a stepback three-pointer to put the 76ers up five points with 1:14 remaining, Philly looked on track to seal the win.
Bam Adebayo's thunderous dunk on Josh Richardson cut the deficit to three points before Butler split a pair of free throws to make it 106-104 with 25.1 left on the clock.
With the Heat aggressively trapping, Tobias Harris got free, but his dunk attempt came rattling out of the rim. Embiid collected the rebound and as he waited for the Heat to foul, Butler poked it away and with 6.9 seconds left and Tyler Herro let it fly from deep to put Miami up one and flip the game on it's head.
🔥 TYLER HERRO PULLS UP AND LETS IT FLY FOR THE LEAD! 🔥- NBA (@NBA) December 29, 2019
6.9 left:@sixers 106@MiamiHEAT 107
📱💻: https://t.co/lZZApswzuX pic.twitter.com/FAIp0wppzk
Out of the timeout, the 76ers got the ball to Embiid in the paint, but surrounded by a sea of baby blue Miami jerseys, he lost the ball, with Butler again coming up with the big defensive play with 3.3 seconds left.
He was fouled and split another pair of free throws to put Miami up 108-106.
On the ensuing possession, Josh Richardson raced down the court looking to get a shot off, only for Dragic to get whistled for the foul and send him to the line, with a chance to tie.
Richardson missed the first and then as he deliberately missed the second, Ben Simmons soared in to put home the miss. Initially, it was thought Richardson's shot didn't hit the rim, but upon review, it showed the ball ever-so-slightly grazed the rim and Simmons' shot was good, forcing overtime.
Simmons' late-game heroics fall short
Much has been made of Simmons' ability to impact games down the stretch, but today he provided the spark the 76ers needed with multiple big plays in crunch time.
Simmons' awareness to get free and crash the lane off Richardson's missed free throw with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation nearly saved the day for his team, but they were unable to captialise on his game-saving play in the extra period.
🚨 Ben Simmons gets the putback to go off the missed free throw- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) December 29, 2019
WE'RE GOING TO OT!!!!@sixers 108@MiamiHEAT 108 pic.twitter.com/5JiWaWdUXp
The Aussie continued to make an impact in OT, coming up with two alley-oop finishes, first to tie the game at 114-114 with 1:28 remaining and then again to tie the game at 116-116 with 18.3 seconds left.
😤 😤 😤 pic.twitter.com/PHQyGoueKS- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 29, 2019
While he still hasn't become a legitimate threat from the three-point line, hustle plays like these, show exactly why Simmons can still make a difference down the stretch for Philly.
He finished with 15 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and three steals on the night.
The Heat are the kings of OT
The Heat are now 6-0 in overtime games this season, eeking out wins against the 76ers, Mavericks, Hawks, Raptors, Bulls and Bucks.
With the win, they're now 15-1 at home this season and now boast a 6-2 record against the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference, adding wins over the Pacers and Nets.
After yet another quality win against potential playoff opposition, the Heat are now 24-8 on the season, while the 76ers fall to 23-12.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.