NBA PLAYOFFS: 76ers sweep Nets, Miami crushes Giannis-less Bucks

Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey embrace each other after sweeping the Nets. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Philadelphia 76ers booked the first ticket to the semifinals of the NBA Playoffs after sweeping the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4, 96-88, while the rolling Miami Heat demolished the Giannis-less Milwaukee Bucks, 121-99, to take a 2-1 series lead last April 23, 2023.

Despite the absence of this season’s favorite to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award Joel Embiid, Philadelphia was able to get tons of production from their supporting cast that just ran over the Nets in the second half.

Brooklyn was looking to extend the series after taking full control of the first half when they protected their lead for 24-straight minutes but the more experienced Philadelphia team found their identity in the second half and went to work on both ends of the floor.

The 76ers regained the much-needed momentum when power forward Tobias Harris helped them retake the lead, 54-53, off a fade away jumper from the left elbow.

After Harris’ bucket, Philadelphia just flipped the switch and showed no mercy to the young Brooklyn team who also had no answers to Tyrese Maxey and James Harden.

Brooklyn had another chance to build a run when Mikal Bridges hit a tough jump shot that gave them back the lead, 70-72, but Philadelphia’s firepower was just too much and established a 13-point lead, 89-76, with 2:30 remaining in the game.

Harris led the Philadelphia charge with his 25-point outing while the duo of Maxey and Harden combined for 33 points.

The 76ers will now have plenty of rest and will await the winner between the Boston Celtics-Atlanta Hawks first-round series as their semifinal opponent.

Meanwhile, in the other Eastern Conference playoff game, the Miami Heat dominated the Milwaukee Bucks on their home floor, 121-99.

It was once again a Jimmy Butler show as the superstar small forward erupted for 30 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

The Heat survived a hot start from Jrue Holiday who drained several tough contested shots to give Milwaukee a slight advantage in the first five minutes of the ball game.

However, after Butler converted a couple of open three-pointers, Miami began to roll and stomp over the Bucks that are still without their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, due to a back contusion.

It was an impressive performance for the Heat after winning all quarters against Milwaukee, their first-ever feat in the ongoing seven-game series.

The Heat also got a spark from their shooter Duncan Robinson who paid off the trust head coach Erik Spoelstra gave him when he was injected midway through the opening frame.

Robinson didn’t disappoint and immediately produced when he hit three-straight shots from downtown to finish with 20 points built from 5/6 shooting from the rainbow country.

Milwaukee will look to equalize the series at 2-2, when they square off with Miami again on April 25, 2023.