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Joel Embiid continues to fight through pain as Philadelphia 76ers fight to stay alive in Game 6

Joel Embiid took a shot to the face that not even his mask could help him absorb. He went down in a heap and stayed on the court in pain until he could compose himself.

Game 5 would get worse in so many ways for Embiid and the 76ers – you can watch Game 6 tonight live on Sky Sports Arena & Main Event, live from 12am (midnight).

There was the Heat’s 35-point win that pushed them to the brink of a series win. Embiid was completely banged up. His thumb. His eye.

Add a bruised ego.

Embiid, the NBA scoring champion, craved the MVP award that went to Denver’s Nikola Jokic for the second straight season. Embiid was an MVP finalist for the second straight season – but fell short again of the NBA’s highest regular-season individual honour.

“That’s two years in a row I put myself in that position,” Embiid said. “It didn’t happen. It’s almost like at this point, it’s whatever. Last year, I campaigned about it. This year, I answered questions when I was asked.

“In the next few years until I retire, to me, I don’t know what else I have to do to win it. It’s whatever. It’s about focusing, not that I wasn’t focusing in the bigger picture, but it’s really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing.”

Hang on, retire in the next few years?

Okay, that’s a topic for down the road, or at least the end of this season which could come for the Sixers as early as Thursday night. The Heat hold a 3-2 series lead after a blowout Game 5 win.

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Jimmy Butler scores a game-high 23 points in Game 5 and Miami moves just one win away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals

The good news for the 76ers, Game 6 is at home.

The bad? The percentages are not in their favour. Teams in NBA history that win Game 5 for a 3-2 series lead wind up advancing 82.2 per cent of the time.

Embiid and the 76ers – as well as Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in the other game against the Phoenix Suns – look to stave off elimination and move on with Game 7 wins and advance to the Conference Finals overnight on Thursday.

The home team has won every game in both series. The Suns lost in the NBA Finals last season.

“At a certain point, it just comes down to grit. Want to,” Suns guard Chris Paul said.

Let’s see who wants it enough.

Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers – Game 6 (Sky Sports Arena & Main Event from 12am, midnight, overnight on Thursday)

Key notes: Blowout city. The 76ers lost Game 1 by 14 points, Game 2 by 16 and Game 3 by 35. Yikes. How low could they go if they lose again to Miami? Should the Heat build an early double-digit lead, keep an eye on the Sixers. Will they let the game get out of hand or put up a fight and force Game 7?

Keep an eye on: James Harden. “The Beard” showed in Game 5 a sensational Game 4 was more an aberration in his short tenure with the Sixers than something to build on for the postseason. Harden has 46 turnovers in the postseason and was a whopping minus-29 in Game 5.

Injury watch: Easy. Embiid. If injuries continue to wear down the center, the Heat will likely win the series. And history says, Miami will win in a blowout.

Pressure is on: Let’s flip a coin. Heads, 76ers. Tails, 76ers. Hey, it’s the 76ers! Lose and the season is over. Win, and maybe, just maybe, a healthy-ish Sixers team can pull out a Game 7 win on the road. After all, the Hawks did it to Philly in the second round last season.

The rush of live NBA Playoffs games continues on Sky Sports this week – see the list of games here and subscribe to watch the live action.



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