The Sixers hosted the Miami Heat in the 2024 NBA Play-In tournament on Wednesday. The winner earned the seven seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket and will face the New York Knicks in the first round. The loser would have to play the Atlanta Hawks or Chicago Bulls in a win-or-go-home scenario for the right to face the Boston Celtics in the first round. Joel Embiid and Nico Batum were heroic in the second half as the Sixers battled back from a double-digit deficit to beat the Heat, 105-104.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Read More: Sixers vs Knicks First-Round Schedule

Contextual Notes

The Heat were without the services of Terry Rozier, who is managing neck spasms.

Josh Richardson is recovering from surgery on his right shoulder and was out.

Erik Spoelstra started Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jovic, and Bam Adebayo.

The Sixers were without the services of De'Anthony Melton, who is managing his recovery from a back injury.

Robert Covington remained out with a bone bruise in his left knee. On Sunday, Nick Nurse told reporters that he does not expect Covington to play again this season.

Nurse started Kyle Lowry, Tyrese Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tobias Harris, and Embiid.


- The reserve of fuel he had left in the tank deemed questionable at the time of the signing, people weren't sure what to make of the decision to trade Patrick Beverley with the intention of adding Lowry on the buyout market.

His countable production in the regular season was largely what you'd expect from an undersized guard at his age. His play was a bit up and down, with the good outweighing the bad. But, as soon as Lowry tucked his jersey into his shorts at tip-off on Wednesday, everyone could tell this was the moment for which he had signed up.

If you wanted to know how badly Lowry wanted to win this game, look no further than him lacing a corner three and then launching a full sprint diagonally to the opposite end of the floor to pressure Butler on an early catch against the sideline closest to the Heat bench. He got into a deep stance as soon as he reached Butler and bothered him enough to force his former teammate to actually turn his back to the basket while pinned against the sideline.

That was just one standout example of Lowry being the most locked in Sixer through the first 24 minutes.

On one of the very first Miami possessions of the game, Lowry took contact on a ball screen and tried to sell the official on an offensive foul. No dice. He wasted no time getting up and complaining, jumping to his feet to recover to Herro and staying down on his pump fake. Lowry's effort forced Herro to think twice on a three that he might've otherwise perceived as being open, eliminating a quality look for the Heat.

From coaching staff to players, Lowry was the only one on Philadelphia's side who was ready to battle in the first half.

- The Sixers looked dead in the water until the game clock showed 6:57 left in the third quarter. Martin missed two free throws, triggering the Sixers' Bricken for Chicken promotion that runs in the second halves of home games. Then, Nico Batum laced a triple, and the crowd's cheers for free chicken turned into cheers for a slight sign of life from the Sixers. The game flipped on its head.

Batum found open spaces on the floor all second half. He made quick decisions when the ball swung his way, shooting immediately, keeping it moving, or reversing it back to where it came from.

Surprising to absolutely no one, the Sixers started to break through the zone when they drove quickly upon catching passes from teammates. They finally started to commit themselves to aggressive, quick play. It put pressure on Miami to rotate, and that created good looks from three.

- No one capitalized on those looks more than Batum did, and he pumped life into the building with five makes from beyond the arc in the second half. He didn't have to do anything fancy, although Batum did manage a no-look putback on an offensive rebound to turn a seemingly empty possession into two points. He simply relocated to wherever Miami's zone was negligent and got himself ready to fire if the ball swung his way.

To top it all off, he met Herro at the zenith on a jumper late in the game, deflecting the attempt to get a critical stop for the Sixers.

- The only blemish on Embiid's resume to this point in his career is the handful of postseason no-shows and meltdowns on the offensive end of the court. Each postseason offers a chance to make critics forget about the past. Most postseasons, Embiid has some ailment holding him back from carrying over his regular-season greatness.

He seemed destined for the same old story in this game, the big guy unable to power through Miami's physicality, missing shots inside, and turning the ball over. But, when the Bat Signal was cast against the dark ceiling of The Center, Embiid stepped up.

He laced a pair of triples from the top of the key in the fourth quarter; one to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, and another to give the Sixers a two-point lead with 2:33 to play. He powered in a short jumper through the foul, restoring Philadelphia's two-point advantage with 1:47 left in the fourth.

The icing on the cake in a strong fourth quarter for Embiid was actually a full-circle moment. With two foes draped on him near the arc, Embiid found Oubre sealing off a defender inside, setting him up for a finish at the rim and the trip to the foul line. It put the Sixers up by three points with 36 seconds left, a lead they never again relinquished.

In so many big moments in the past, we've seen Embiid settle for high-difficulty shots, try to force things that weren't there, or dribble himself into trouble. It was when Embiid calmed down against the pressure and trusted his teammates that the Sixers finally made the big play to win a game that they've lost so many times before.

Embiid was laboring all night, but he saved his best for the moments that decided the game.


- My biggest concern coming into this game was how the Sixers would react to a bad start against Miami's zone defense. And, boy, was it horrible. Many of the things the Sixers did well against the zone when they beat the Heat in Miami in early April were practically forgotten. The player movement was not there; the home team spent more time watching the ball than they did watching for vacant spots on the court to which they could relocate.

The indecision against momentary separation was crippling to the Sixers' offense. Philadelphia pump-faked out of the split seconds of space they had as the Heat rotated to the ball. The Sixers forced bad passes, all of the other maladies coalescing to push them against the shot clock and pressure them into rushing whatever it was they were trying to do.

The biggest culprit was that no one relocated to open spaces to create new angles through which the offense could flow. In the preview to this game, I wrote about how important it would be to actively search for those open spots on the floor when Miami broke out the zone. If nothing else, it's a release valve for the pressure. They did no such thing, and all of the issues combined to push the Sixers well below sea level in the second quarter.

- As an aside to the zone talk right above, it was about as bad a look as possible that the "big" trade deadline acquisition was not at all interested in shooting open threes against Miami's zone. Buddy Hield second-guessed himself every time the ball swung his way, pump-faking everything to the point that even fans started to notice and voice their displeasures.

The Sixers (7) will visit the Knicks (2) for Game 1 of their first-round series on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m., Eastern time. You can watch the game on ESPN.

The Cost Of Seasonal Parking Permits In Cape May County, NJ Shore Towns

Every Jersey Shore Town located in Cape May County now uses the ParkMobile App for parking, as every town has made the transition to Virtual Parking Meters. Some people do not want the hassle of using a Virtual App or paying for Meters. These people typically obtain Seasonal Parking Passes in order to park in the Coastal Communities from May through September.
Here is a breakdown of how much those Parking Permits are reported to cost in each Cape May County Shore Town. Small Municipalities such as West Wildwood and West Cape May do not have their own parking meters or Seasonal Parking Permits, so they are not listed below.

Gallery Credit: Josh Hennig/Townsquare Media

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