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76ers duo Embiid and Batum combine to sink Heat

Joel Embiid and Nicolas Batum came alive in the second half as the Philadelphia 76ers overcame the “nasty” Miami Heat 105-104 to secure the seventh seed in the NBA play-offs.

The 76ers were down by 12 at half-time but Batum hit five of his six-pointers after the break while the hitherto struggling Embiid scored 11 points in the final quarter to help their side to edge a feisty Eastern Conference play-in contest.

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Philly advance to a clash with the New York Knicks – Game One coming on Saturday night – while the Heat face the Chicago Bulls on Friday for the right to meet the Boston Celtics.

It means a lot,” Embiid said. “Being down a lot, we stuck together. It shows you that. I don’t play my best, I don’t get to my spots the whole game until the fourth quarter and we still found a way to win.

“They like to make it nasty and we can do it, too, and we made it nasty, too.”

Momentum is important heading into the post-season and the 76ers have it in abundance, coming in on the back of a nine-game winning streak.

Tyrese Maxey knows it won’t be easy, however, against a Knicks side he described as “grimy”.

“They’re tough,” Maxey said. “They start at the head of the snake at Jalen Brunson. We got to find ways to slow him down. Thankfully we got a few people we can kind of throw at him. And we have Joel down there protecting us.

“But they’re an extremely grimy team. They play hard and physical, they’re tough, and that’s their identity. So for us to go in there and try to get W’s and try to win this series, we have to match that. And not just match, but we have to overcome that, and be better than that, and be extremely physical as well. 

“I think we know what we have to do. And they kicked our tail in the regular season, so it’s time to go in there and fight.”

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