We should’ve known the 76ers were doomed, plus the biggest NFL games to look forward to

Happy Friday everyone! Another week down, and another big weekend of sports ahead of us.

Let’s get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to …

USATSI

THE MIAMI HEAT …

The Miami Heat are through to the Eastern Conference Finals, and they’re doing it their way. Miami outplayed, out-hustled and simply imposed their will on the 76ers en route to a 99-90 Game 6 win.

  • Jimmy Butlerfar and away the best player all series, scored 32 points.
  • Four other Miami players scored double digits, led by Max Strus’20.
  • Miami led by as much as 20 in the fourth quarter.

The Heat, quite simply, are everything the 76ers are not. They’re deep, they’re composed, and they give terrific effort all the time. And Butler showed he’s a star who can carry his team, notes NBA expert Colin Ward-Henninger.

  • Ward-Henninger: “There are few players who raise the level of their game from the regular season to the playoffs more than Jimmy Butler. … Say what you will about Butler’s status in the superstar hierarchy during the regular season, but he’s proven time and time again that he belongs on a very short list of players who can legitimately be the best player on a championship team. The guy is just a winner. “

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE DALLAS MAVERICKS

Back to Phoenix we go. The Mavericks staved off elimination with an 113-86 blowout win to force a Game 7 Sunday.

  • Luka Doncic had 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
  • The Mavericks knocked down 16 threes compared to six for the Suns.
  • The Mavericks forced 22 turnovers, including 13 combined from Devin Booker (eight) and Chris Paul (five).

Neither team has won on the road this series, but with Doncic anything is possible for the Mavericks to break that trend, writes our NBA expert Sam Quinn.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for …

THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

We shouldn’t be surprised. When the 76ers completely no-showed on Tuesday in a crucial Game 5, we should have known they simply didn’t have it (define “it” however you want). Last night’s loss only confirmed what we should have already known.

  • Joel Embiid battled through too many injuries to count and was never close to 100 percent. He scored 20 points on just 7-for-24 shooting.
  • James Hardenmeanwhile, was nearly invisible: 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. He took two shots in the second half and missed them both.

Playing with their season on the line, the 76ers were beaten on several hustle stats, like rebounds, offensive rebounds and fast break points. The quintessential play of the game came with just over five minutes left and Miami up 17 points. Butler missed a jumper, got his own offensive rebound while the 76ers just watched, stared down Harden, then made a 3-pointer over him. On the way back down the court, Butler, eyes wide, simply said “Wow!” Wow indeed, Jimmy.

We should have expected better from Philadelphia. But, really, we should have known not to expect better. Philadelphia has major questions to answer this offseason, starting with Harden, who had yet another poor postseason and is up for an extension. Sam’s breakdown of the Harden conundrum is excellent.

  • Quinn: Maybe Harden gets healthy this offseason. Maybe he changes his diet and his nightlife habits. If he does these things, we might be celebrating the 2022-23 Philadelphia 76ers as NBA champions and Harden as one of the league’s highest-paid superstars for years to come. But as things stand right now? The Sixers are about as far away from that trophy as Harden is from that last payday. “

Ultimately, the 76ers made moves during the regular season that indicated they wanted to make some serious noise this postseason. They went out with hardly a whimper.

Not so honorable mentions

The NFL schedule has arrived! Here are the biggest games to look forward to 🏈

Getty Images

The entire NFL schedule is here, and now we have one more thing to talk about as we try to fill the next four months of offseason. Thank goodness.

We already discussed a few games that came out early in yesterday’s newsletterbut now that we know every game, NFL expert Jared Dubin has marked the best game for each weekand it’s hard to top the season opener.

  • Depth: “Week 1: Bills at Rams (Thursday) – Yeah, so this is an awesome kickoff game for the season. We’ve got the defending champs hosting one of the top contenders, on a field that will be absolutely loaded with stars on both sides of the ball. Plus, there’s a bit of an edge with Von Miller playing against the team he just left in free agency. “

Our NFL team did a wonderful job covering the schedule release with everything you could possibly want to know:

Rich Strike won’t run in Preakness Stakes 🏇

If you were hoping for a Triple Crown this year, sorry to disappoint: Rich Strikethe shocking winner of last weekend’s Kentucky Derby, will not run in the Preakness Stakes on May 21.

Owner Rick Dawson said that the plan for Rich Strike had always been to skip the Preakness and then run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11. Though Rich Strike’s shocking win at Churchill Downs made changing those plans “very, very tempting,” Dawson said it was ultimately the best decision to stick with the original plan.

Justify’s 2018 Triple Crown will remain the most recent one, at least for one more year.

Which New York team is more likely to win the World Series? ⚾

USATSI

In case you haven’t been super tuned in to the early part of the MLB season, the Yankees and the Mets are at the top of the MLB standings. It’s a great time for baseball in the Big Apple.

But which team is more likely to win the World Series? Our baseball experts discussed that in their latest Batting Around roundtable. RJ Anderson took the Bronx Bombers.

  • Anderson:I think the Mets have the better roster when each side is healthy, but I think the Yankees have a better chance of winning the World Series because the quality of the respective leagues gives them a better chance of getting there in the first place. That may sound counterintuitive, so let me put it another way: the American League doesn’t have a team as good as the Dodgers – the same Dodgers team who has played in five of the last six NL Championship Series.

You can check out all of the answers here.

What we’re watching this weekend 📺

And also …

Friday

🏀 Fever at Liberty8 pm on Twitter

Saturday

AC Milan vs Atalanta11 am on Paramount +
Cagliari vs Inter Milan2 pm on Paramount +
🏀 Mercury at Storm3 pm on ABC
Padres at Braves4:05 pm on FS1
Pride vs Current6:30 pm on Paramount +
Gotham FC vs Courage7 pm on Paramount +

Sunday

Wave FC vs Red Stars5 pm on Paramount +
Giants at Cardinals7 pm on ESPN

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