The Sixers return home down 2-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat after a 119-103 loss on Wednesday. There’s a lot of blame to go around — starting with Joel Embiid’s orbital fracture — but Tyrese Maxey continues to show he’s a star in the making. He scored a game-high 34 points, including 23 in the second half and drew praise from LeBron.

Maxey delivered the way the Sixers were expecting James Harden to do when they acquired him at the February trade deadline but have yet to see it in the playoffs. And Marcus Hayes says Maxey’s evolution has simplified things for Doc Rivers. Until Embiid returns, the Sixers should run everything through Maxey.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Do the Sixers still have a chance to win this series or are you throwing in the towel? Tell us why or why not at sports.daily@inquirer.com

Early Birds

During the NFL’s scouting combine, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni and general manager Howie Roseman expressed confidence in Jalen Hurts as their starting quarterback. Owner Jeffrey Lurie reiterated that point a few weeks later. On Wednesday, Hurts said he understands what is in front of him as the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 2022. “It’s my opportunity. It’s my team. It’s pretty much what it is. This is my team, so I’m ready to go.”

As the Eagles go through spring workouts, defensive end Brandon Graham, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in September, says he has no limitations.

The Eagles fired director of scouting operations Casey Weidl, and the brother of senior executive Andy Weidl, which could be the first of several lower-level changes to the front office.

Extra Innings

Roman Quinn knew the feeling all too well. It was a torn Achilles tendon — again. This time it was his left Achilles. Eight years prior it was his right. His second Achilles injury happened on May 29, 2021 and left him wondering if his career was over. But here he is, less than a year later running just as fast as he did before the injury. Matt Breen has the story on how the speedy Quinn got back to flying down the base paths so quickly.

Bryce Harper met with the Phillies doctors before Tuesday night’s game to determine whether he’s cleared to resume throwing.

Joe Girardi pulling Zack Wheeler after just 79 pitches in a scoreless tie was an odd move, but it wasn’t the reason the Phillies were swept by the Rangers on Wednesday night.

Next: The Phillies open a four-game series against the Mets at 6:45 p.m. Thursday (NBCSP). Aaron Nola (1-3, 3.90) will start for the Phillies against Mets right-hander Taijuan Walker (0-0, 0.00).

Off the Dribble

The 76ers are down 2-0 and down a superstar center in their Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat. Despite the best efforts of Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey in Games 1 and 2, respectively, the Sixers are in a hole that could prove insurmountable once the series moves to Philly for Games 3 and 4.

With so much stacked against them after Wednesday’s 119-103 loss, the Inquirer’s Keith Pompey believes the Sixers have nothing to lose. And, as he wrote, if they are to field a comeback, they will need to do so with speed and a loose approach.

Next: The series moves to Philly for Game 3 and the Sixers will play the Heat at 7 p.m. Friday at Wells Fargo Center (TNT).

On the Fly

Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday, the same day he announced Mike Yeo would not return as head coach, that the Flyers coaching search would begin in earnest on Wednesday. While many think Flyers Hall of Famer and tough guy Rick Tocchet is the odds-on favorite to the land job, he is far from the only candidate.

Here are five candidates the Flyers could or should consider for the vacancy.

Worth a look

  • Wright era lives on: Did Villanova do the right thing by picking from Jay Wright’s coaching tree for his successor? The early facts prove they did.

  • Derby day: Here’s where to watch and bet the Kentucky Derby on Saturday in the Philly area.

  • Next stop, the Tour: Gregory Odom Jr. won the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship at Union League Liberty Hill on Wednesday, but the best is yet to come. He’ll make his PGA Tour debut on Thursday.

Fly or tank?

On Wednesday, we asked you if the Flyers should embrace the tank or try and run it back and compete for a playoff spot next season. Here are a few of your responses:

  • In my opinion Chuck Fletcher has been a subpar GM. What other team has, outside of Carter Hart, maybe, no player that is an ”untouchable” and can be labeled as one who should not be traded under any circumstances? — Alan

  • Look at the Rangers for your answer. A COMPLETE rebuild from TOP to bottom. Send any good old boy Flyer packing starting with Bobby Clarke. — Louis S.

  • The Flyers should look at what the Miami Heat did after LeBron James left. The Heat was stuck with a team built around James, who went to Cleveland. Now they’ve been rebuilt into one of the best teams in the NBA, with a better bench than the Sixers. — Larry W.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Matt Breen, Scott Lauber, Katie Kohler, Marcus Hayes, Gustav Elvin, Joe Juliano, Mike Jensen, Keith Pompey and Gina Mizell.