Brilliant efforts from Maxey and Oubre Jr. help the 76ers edge past Miami Heat

Tyrese Maxey scored 30 points with 10 assists, while Kelly Oubre Jr. added 22 points and 11 rebounds to help the Philadelphia 76ers defeat the Miami Heat 98-91 on Monday night in what may be a preview of an NBA play-in tournament game. Kyle Lowry rebounded from a rough start to score 16 points for the Sixers in his first game against the Heat since being traded in January. Without Embiid, Maxey stabilized the Sixers and scored 18 points in the first half to help them win their second straight game after losing seven of ten. The Sixers understand that without Embiid, the play-in tournament looms.

The Heat’s Bam Adebayo finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Terry Rozier III tallied 20 points. The Heat trailed by 14 points entering the fourth quarter before going on a 20-8 rally to tie the game at 85 on Caleb Martin’s dunk. Buddy Hield broke the deadlock with a three-pointer, and Lowry added another to help the Sixers avoid a devastating collapse in a game they couldn’t afford to lose.

With 14 games remaining this season, the Eastern Conference champion Heat are once again in play-in mode and have dropped to eighth place in the standings; they ended seventh last year when Jimmy Butler sparked an unlikely run to the NBA Finals. The 76ers are sixth at 38-30, while the Heat are 37-31, an ugly spiral for a club that spent the majority of the season as a certain conference contender before losing Joel Embiid to a knee injury in the final game of January.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Nick Nurse remained optimistic Embiid could return before the end of the season. I think he gets into the shape and rhythm pretty quickly. I think the more games we have him, the better. I also think we want to get to a point where he’s as healthy as he can be at playoff or play-in time, Nurse said We’re going to try and fight like to heck to finish as high as we can. That matters. But if not, so be it. We’ll play in, we’ll play in the playoffs, whatever. I just hope we’re playing, the 56-year-old American added.

Due to injuries, the Heat have employed a franchise-high 32 starting lineups. They’re trying to establish some consistency down the stretch and avoid thinking about a potential second straight run, which begins with the play-in. Heat will play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, March 21.