Sixers: 3 takeaways from series-tying Game 4 win over Heat

James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Sixers-Heat Game 4 takeaways: Shooting variance

The Heat have now spent two consecutive games making fewer than 25 percent of their 3-point attempts. Some of that is good defense from Philadelphia, but a lot of it is simple variance. The Sixers shot better than normal at home, the Heat shot worse than normal. We should anticipate some positive regression for Miami in Game 5. A lot of these clanked open 3s are going to start falling at some point.

That means Philadelphia should be ready to weather the storm in Game 5. It feels inevitable. Joel Embiid and the Sixers’ defense has done a lot to aggravate Miami’s offense, but the Heat run a tight ship and should generate good looks on their home floor. The Sixers, meanwhile, are due for a slump.

How can the Sixers overcome such variance? Star performances. Joel Embiid hasn’t been quite himself since returning in Game 3, and understandably so — he’s playing with a bad shooting thumb and a mask that impacts peripheral vision. His ball control and shot accuracy just isn’t where it normally is. That said, he looked better in Game 4 than he did in Game 3. He’s getting more used to the thumb wrap and more used to the mask each day. Can he break out a vintage performance in Game 5? An Embiid haymaker to put the Sixers up 3-2 heading back to Philly would certainly help.

The Sixers’ offense has been consistently dominant, if a bit maddening. Turnovers are a problem, but even when the role players don’t show up, Doc Rivers has four legitimate offensive stars at his disposal. The are varying degrees of stardom at play, but Embiid and Harden are impossible to fully contain in tandem, while Harris and Maxey are playing the best basketball of their respective careers right now. Even if the shooting variance swings back in Miami’s favor, the Sixers might be able to get enough from the “Big Four” to make Game 5 competitive.

Heck, even if the 3-point variance swings back in Miami’s favor, can the Heat expect another dominant shot-making performance from Jimmy Butler? He hit several well-contested shots en route to 40 points on Sunday night. Can he break out a third straight masterclass in Game 5, or is he due for a quiet night? There are plenty of factors to consider here.

In the end, we can only wait and see. Game 5 is Tuesday night. We’ll have you covered.

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