76ers aim for 2nd round, Embiid says Philly will be 'lit'
NBA.com Global on Apr 24, 2018 04:47 PM
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 21: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers blocks the shot by Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2018 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press
Joel Embiid expects his first playoff game in Philadelphia to be quite a scene.
“It’s going to be lit,” Embiid said.
And if the 76ers win, there will be more games like it next week.
The 76ers can become the first team into the Eastern Conference semifinals when they host the Miami Heat on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in Game 5 of the only East series that isn’t tied.
Also Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), the Golden State Warriors get their second chance to eliminate San Antonio, and the Celtics and Bucks return to Boston for Game 5 of a series in which the home team has won every game.
Embiid was still sidelined while recovering from a broken orbital bone around his left eye for the first two games in Philadelphia, then returned to help the 76ers win Games 3 and 4 in Miami.
Now the 76ers, who just two years ago lost 72 games in one of the worst seasons ever while the Warriors were winning an NBA-record 73, can join the defending champions in the second round on the same night. The 76ers have advanced to the East semis just twice since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001.
Golden State missed its first chance to move on when San Antonio won 103-90 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The Warriors were disappointed, though far from devastated.
“We lost and we got another opportunity to try to close this thing out back at the crib,” Kevin Durant said, “so no, we’re good.”
Ettore Messina will coach the Spurs again in place of Gregg Popovich, who will miss his third straight game following the death of his wife.
Some things to know about Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) matchups:
BUCKS AT CELTICS
Series tied 2-2. Game 5, 7 p.m. (7am, PHL time)
NEED TO KNOW: Milwaukee has shot 52 percent or better in the last three games and outscored Boston 433-427 in a series in which the Celtics won the opener in overtime and the Bucks took Game 4 by two points on Giannis Antetokounmpo ’s follow shot with five seconds remaining.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Jaylen Brown. He’s scored 30 or more in two of the last three games, and his 11-point outing in Game 3 was the only game in the series Boston didn’t have a chance to win. “I want to just continue to keep helping my team and shooting the ball well,” Brown said. “It’s something that’s on and I want to continue to do that.”
INJURY UPDATE: The Celtics are listing guard Marcus Smart, sidelined since mid-March because of right thumb surgery, as questionable. Bucks starting center John Henson has missed the last two games with a sore lower back.
PRESSURE IS ON: Jabari Parker and Thon Maker. Parker’s 16.5 points and Maker’s 5.0 blocks per game off the bench were huge keys in Milwaukee, but they have to prove they can take their show on the road. They managed all of two points in Boston, where Maker didn’t even get in Game 1.
HEAT AT 76ERS
Philadelphia leads 3-1. Game 5, 8 p.m. (8am, PHL time)
NEED TO KNOW: Philadelphia is averaging 116.8 points in the series, tops among postseason teams, and the 76ers have outscored the Heat 127-85 in the fourth quarter of the four games.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Dwyane Wade, because it might be the last time to watch him play. The Heat star hasn’t committed to playing next season, so this could be the final game of his career if Miami loses.
INJURY UPDATE: Forward Josh Richardson is questionable with a left shoulder sprain, and the Heat are also dealing with injuries to fellow starters Tyler Johnson (left thumb) and Goran Dragic (sore right knee). If Johnson is limited, the Heat could insert Rodney McGruder for defense or give Wayne Ellington more minutes in hopes of getting his shot going.
PRESSURE IS ON: Miami’s starters. In what should be a raucous atmosphere in Philadelphia, the Heat have to make sure they aren’t run off the floor before Wade even gets off the bench.
SPURS AT WARRIORS
Golden State leads 3-1. Game 5, 10:30 p.m. (10:30am, PHL time)
NEED TO KNOW: Another loss would give the Warriors more in this postseason then they had all last year. Golden State was 16-1 (an NBA-record .941 winning percentage) in storming to its second championship in three years.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Manu Ginobili. The 40-year-old Argentine may have extended not only the series but also his career when he scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4, so there’s at least one more chance to enjoy his brilliant style of play.
INJURY UPDATE: Ginobili was kneed in the thigh late in Game 4 and will be hoping to be pain-free after a day off. Also, the Spurs have ruled Kawhi Leonard out for Game 5.
PRESSURE IS ON: The Warriors, if only to avoid the aggravation of the old reminders about their big lead blown in the 2016 NBA Finals if they lose again and the series is prolonged while New Orleans, who they would play in the second round, continues to rest.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami and AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston contributed to this report.