What we learned from the 76ers' comeback with a play-in win over the Miami Heat

By Mike Workunov, Eric Koren, and Tobias Bass

A tale of two halves and great bench play earned the Philadelphia 76ers the No. 7 seed

With this loss, the Heat will play the Chicago Bulls in a win-or-go-home matchup for the final NBA playoff spot.

Nicholas Badum had a monster game with a season-high 20 points and five rebounds. Joel Embiid led all scorers with 23 points on 6-of-17 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds and five assists.

The 76ers went into halftime up 51-39, and continued to be cheered by the Philly faithful as they committed 12 first-half turnovers and Miami scored 17 points. Their struggles were predicated on Miami's zone defense, as eight of Philly's 12 turnovers came against the zone.

To start the second half, Philadelphia began to press more defensively and rely on their bench, and Miami had very few answers. They kept the game close with heroics from Bam Adebayo and Tyler Hero, but the 76er's pace was too much to overcome. Philly's bench scored 36 points, and Batum made a key block on Hero late in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

What this win means for Philadephia

The Sixers didn't just win their play-in tournament game, they won something important. That puts them into the playoffs as the 7th seed, which is huge because it allows them to avoid the Celtics in the first round. The Knicks will no doubt be a tough matchup, but they're not the Celtics who were the unquestioned regular season juggernauts. They can take the train to New York and the next two weeks or so will be a coin-flip first-round matchup.

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It was a great comeback for the Sixers. They detect heat in real time. Nothing connected like Embiid, who struggled early and then took over late. His clutch buckets and huge assist to Kelly Oubre Jr. late in the fourth quarter helped seal the win. — Mike Workunov, NBA and basketball business staff writer

Can Miami put together another Cinderella run?

The Heat had the 28th-ranked clutch offense in the league this year, a major warning sign about the team's potential throughout a slow playoff run. Miami built a 12-point lead on the strength of a tricky zone defense that spooked the 76ers and created easy opportunities in transition. Once Philadelphia embraced, Miami couldn't produce enough scoring. Aside from Herro, Miami had no offensive secondary, and that allowed Philadelphia to eventually get past them.

The Heat will play the Bulls in Miami on Friday night, with the winner taking on the Boston Celtics in the first round. However, Jimmy Butler injured himself late in the first quarter, and when Oubre replaced him, Terry Rozier, the speedy guard acquired in January for Kyle Lowry, missed five consecutive games with a neck injury. Butler didn't move during some late Miami possessions, shooting 5-for-18 on the night. Butler said he will have an MRI on his knee Thursday and felt he was more limited as the game progressed and hurt the Heat more than it helped them. If Butler is compromised and Rozier is unavailable, the Heat need a little magic to get into the playoffs. – Eric Korine, Raptors staff writer

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(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

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