Shockingly, the Sixers only managed to secure two wins throughout their battles with the Heat, as Joel Embiid and James Harden failed to integrate enough to give Philadelphia the boost they were expecting when they created their star duo in February.
Of course, the Sixers’ failure to raise their game is only half the story, as Jimmy Butler and the Heat put on a clinic in championship-level basketball. Following the game, Embiid took a moment to congratulate his former teammate before airing his frustrations that Butler was no longer wearing a Sixers uniform.
“I’m so proud of him; he’s playing at an unreal level right now; he’s something else. I’m proud of him for being at this level and what he’s been able to do,” Embiid told reporters, “I won’t sit here and say that I didn’t wish he was my teammate. I still don’t know how we let him go, but I wish I could still go to battle with him, but it is what it is.”
Butler and Embiid only spent 55 games as teammates during the 2018-19 season, but their pair seemed to fit well, both with their on-court styles and off-court personalities. However, following Philadelphia’s decision to move on from the outspoken wing, Butler is the one to have the last laugh.
Butler Reciprocates Embiid’s Praise
Butler and Embiid are known to be close friends following their time in Philadelphia together. So, it should come as no surprise that when Butler was informed of Embiid’s glowing comments, he responded with his own praise for one of the NBA’s MVP candidates this season.
“I love him. I’m proud of him. Yes, yes, yes, I still wish that I was on his team. I definitely love the Miami Heat, though, man. I’m glad that I’m here, but I’ve got so much respect and love for Joel Embiid,” Butler said immediately after the Heat progressed to the conference finals.
Butler ended the game-six contest with 32 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal while shooting 44.8% from the field and 33.3% from deep. Butler’s all-action performance was indicative of his post-season form and the leadership he brings to South Beach. The fact that the Heat have now gone to the conference finals in two of the three seasons he’s been with the team speaks volumes about his impact on the organization.
Kyle Lowry Continues to Miss Time
The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks are still going toe-to-toe as they fight for the opportunity to face off against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. Miami, who has a history against both of their potential opponents, will likely spend this additional time resting and scouting both teams, looking for potential weaknesses.
Of course, as Kyle Lowry continues to miss games with a hamstring injury, Miami may find themselves at a slight disadvantage. The veteran guard was acquired to provide stern perimeter defense and a much-needed scoring punch from a player who can create their own shot, yet Miami has seldom seen their first-choice rotation in action in the post-season.
Lowry has missed six of the Heat’s 11 playoff games this season and even went scoreless in their May 6 contest against the Sixers, as he struggles to find a rhythm. Both the Celtics and Bucks are stern opponents, known for their defensive fortitude and ability to capitalize on any mistakes.
So, the Heat will likely begin to ramp up Lowry’s recovery and training routine as they aim to enter the conference finals with a clean bill of health and make short work of whoever stands in their way en route to the NBA finals and a potential championship.