The return of Joel Embiid for Games 3 and 4 inspired the Sixers to back-to-back home-court wins against Miami and pulled the Eastern Conference semifinal series even at two games apiece. That renewed optimism surrounding the Sixers was quickly extinguished by the Heat in Game 5 as the series shifted back to Miami.

The Heat jumped out to a 23-10 lead and really never looked back, leading by 12 points after one, maintaining that lead at the break, and extending the lead to 15 after three. In the fourth, the Heat, led by former Sixer Jimmy Butler (23 points), ran away and hid, increasing the lead to as many as 37 points, and winning, 120-85.

What went wrong for the Sixers? Pretty much everything, including an injury scare for Embiid. Keith Pompey has the full report from Miami.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

What’s the biggest key for the Sixers in Game 6 if they are to extend their season and force a Game 7? Tell us at

Off the Dribble

Doc Rivers was disappointed when he heard the news. The Sixers coach and his players all expected Joel Embiid to come away with the MVP award this year. But it was not meant to be as he lost to the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokić for a second straight year.

Asked about Embiid’s season, Rivers said he couldn’t imagine any player being more productive. Of course, Embiid led the NBA in scoring and kept the Sixers afloat through the Ben Simmons saga.

“I don’t know if a guy could’ve done more than he did this year, play without the second-best player [Simmons] all year,” Rivers said. “Listen, his résumé was great. I’m not taking anything away from Jokić either, because he’s a hell of a player.”

Next: The Sixers return to Philly for Game 6 against the Heat. With their playoff lives on the line, they will play at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center (ESPN).

On the Fly

In December 2019, Oskar Lindblom’s world was rocked when he learned he had Ewing’s sarcoma.

After undergoing chemotherapy, Lindblom returned that season and appeared in two playoff games. He later admitted, understandably, that he was not fully up to speed.

Two and a half years later, and fresh off his first full season since his diagnosis, Lindblom has made significant progress but says there is more to come. Olivia Reiner caught up with the Flyers winger to discuss his season, how he’s feeling, and what he expects heading into next season.

The Flyers will pick No. 5 overall at July’s NHL draft, the team learning its fate Tuesday night at the NHL’s draft lottery.

Extra Innings

The best part of Francisco Morales’ major league debut on Monday was a bear hug from Phillies starter Ranger Suárez, a fellow Venezuelan, in the dugout after Morales’ 12-pitch seventh inning in the 9-0 victory.

It was a nice moment for Morales and Suárez. But what about for the eagle-eyed scout who signed both of them for the Phillies four years apart, keeping tabs on the game from some 4,300 miles away? “It was a great feeling to see those two guys throwing the way they pitched,” Jesús Méndez said. “I know they’re going to have a lot of future. Because these two guys, they have, like, cold blood. They have no fear, nothing. They just pitch like veterans.”

With two starters on the COVID-19 injured list, the Phillies will call up Bailey Falter to start Wednesday.

Joe Girardi was ejected early in a 5-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners, when the Phillies committed four errors.

Next: The Phillies wrap up their series in Seattle at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday (NBCSP). Falter (0-1, 4.91 ERA) will start against Mariners right-hander Logan Gilbert (4-0, 1.36).

Early Birds

Delco’s John Harrar got a tryout with the Eagles at the team’s rookie minicamp as he hopes to pursue an NFL career after playing basketball for Penn State. Can he catch on somewhere as a 6-foot-9 tight end? That remains to be seen, but as he told writer Matt Breen, just to wear the Eagles uniform for a tryout was a dream come true.

Fleet Street

The good news is that thanks to their weekend draw on the road against the top team in the Western Conference, the Union still lead the Eastern Conference.

The bad news is that they’re out of the U.S. Open Cup entirely.

Jonathan Tannenwald takes a closer look at manager Jim Curtin’s failed gambit of cobbling together a patchwork squad of backups for the competition.

However, there’s also a case to be made that the Union have bigger irons in the fire than the Open Cup at present.

Worth a Look

  • A family affair: Germantown’s Jaron “Boots” Ennis is one win away from a mandatory welterweight title shot, and when he enters the ring on Saturday in Carson, Calif., he will be joined by his father and trainer, Derek “Bozy” Ennis. Matt Breen visited the father-son combination to discuss why they think Boots is poised to take their family’s name to a new level in the world of boxing.

  • Brady the Broadcaster?: It was revealed Tuesday that seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady will join Fox following his retirement from the NFL. The deal reportedly is worth $375 million over 10 years. Now the only hang-up is the whole Brady actually retiring thing.

Trivia Answer

Which Phillies pitcher threw a no-hitter and hit two home runs in the same game?

Answer: B. Rick Wise. Wise no-hit the Cincinnati Reds on June 23, 1971, walking only one and homering in the fifth and eighth innings.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Keith Pompey, Olivia Reiner, Matt Breen, Scott Lauber, and Jonathan Tannenwald.