As Sixers collapse in similar fashion against Heat, what moves do they make next?

Jimmy Butler led with 32 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and Max Strus had 20 points, 11 rebounds to lift the Miami Heat over the Philadelphia 76ers 99-90, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

On the three year anniversary of "The Shot", the iconic buzzer-beater where Kawhi Leonard hit the shot that would send the Philadelphia 76ers packing and eventually lead the Toronto Raptors to the first championship in franchise history, the Sixers found themselves heading home once again.

This time, the stakes were somehow higher. It wasn't a Game 7 on the road, it was a Game 6 at home, with Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris on the floor, with a healthy bench and all the tools they needed to extend the series to one more game.

Yet in classic Sixers fashion, they now face their fans, the media, and mostly face themselves asking what went wrong on a team with an MVP-caliber centre, a point guard they made a blockbuster trade for, and a coach who desperately needed to disprove his playoff failures.

The biggest concern is that of James Harden, who was clearly unhappy in Brooklyn with his style of play reflecting such, looking for a new life that Philadelphia was looking to give him in exchange for Ben Simmons.

Ironically, as Simmons was criticized for not taking shots at crucial moments in the playoffs last season, Harden fell to the same fate, scoring zero points in the second half of Game 6 vs. Miami and taking only nine shots all game, playing 42 minutes.

Harden isn't a player who is as "washed" as some may say - he won the league MVP award with Houston just four years ago, before the Rockets traded him away for first-round picks to build their future, seen with the acquisition of Jalen Green.

It's the work ethic and drive that Harden lacks, a player who can average a double-double in shooting and assists and has for the last two seasons, but can also be a non-factor in games where he needs to be a first option, which is much of the reason why Brooklyn acquired Simmons in his place.

As for Embiid, the people's villain especially in Toronto, whether the calls go his way or not he still averaged 30.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game this season, playing through an orbital fracture and torn thumb ligament but still finishing second in MVP voting behind Nikola Jokic.

Maxey and Harris both averaged over 17 points per game this season, bringing four of their starting five to solid double-digit figures in scoring while Embiid led the rebounding charge and Harden controlled most ball movement to find the open shooter.

So what went wrong for Philly once again?

It's not a discredit to an incredibly talented Miami team — Jimmy Butler is having another bubble-esque performance leading the Heat in scoring, and seven players are averaging double-digit scoring for Miami this season. Their scoring depth is simply absurd and helped them land the first seed in the Eastern Conference with ease.

But Miami does have their weaknesses, they've dealt with injuries to stars like Butler, Kyle Lowry and Victor Oladipo, and they struggle to keep the intensity on offence late in the game a lot of the time.

With all that said, head coach Erik Spoelstra has managed to lead the Heat to their sixth Eastern Conference Finals appearance during his tenure, which can't be said for the coach on the other side of the series.

Doc Rivers, who was unemployed for what seemed like only minutes after being fired from the Los Angeles Clippers following their 2020 second-round exit in seven games to the Denver Nuggets, has not fulfilled his potential — a common trend over his career.

In his time with the Clippers, he became the only coach in NBA history to lose three playoff series after his teams had 3-1 leads. He also has failed to move past the second round in his last nine playoff appearances, even despite his argument that his eighth seed Orlando Magic in 2003 went up against a title-winning Detroit Pistons.

The story of the Sixers, and in the case of Doc Rivers, continues to go in circles. It's the story of underachieving, of giving up too early, and misplacing the blame causing more animosity between the team.

The question now is how do the Sixers move forward — do they finally part with Embiid, give him a chance to win and get a chance to restart in return? Do they part with Rivers after just two seasons? Or do they look elsewhere as the reason for never being able to change their fate?

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