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The Sixers let their players coach and the Heat benched their starters in a game both teams wanted to lose

joel embiid drawing plays sixers
joel embiid drawing plays sixers


With both teams heavily incentivized to lose, Wednesday night's Philadelphia 76ers-Miami Heat game got weird.

The players didn't try to lose the game on purpose (this never happens in the NBA, see: the Knicks), but the respective teams put their players in the worst possible position to win.

In a trade last summer, the Sixers acquired the Heat's 2015 protected top-10 first-round draft pick. If the pick is in the top 10, the Heat keep it. If it's outside the top 10, the Sixers get it. With Miami sitting in 10th place entering the game, both teams had a chance to dramatically increase their odds of getting the pick by losing.

As Brandon Lee Gowton of Liberty Ballers put it after the game: "Both teams tanked pretty hard. In the end, the Sixers tanked harder and they lost."

Miami won, 105-101, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Nerlens Noel, Philly's best player, didn't play for a third straight game. Neither did Ish Smith, leaving the team without a true point guard — it played only seven players total.

The players who didn't play took on coaching responsibilities. First-round pick Joel Embiid, who didn't play all year because of a broken foot, was drawing up plays in the huddle:

Noel got in on the coaching action as well:

The Associated Press wrote after the game of Sixers coach Brett Brown: "Brown let several of the bench players draw up plays in the huddle. Guard Jason Richardson joked the Sixers scored on all of his plays."

Not to be outdone, the Heat benched the entire lineup that started Monday night's game against the Orlando Magic before they were eliminated from playoff contention. Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng, Chris Andersen, and Mario Chalmers were all voluntarily benched.

Not only that, they played the bench players the entire 48 minutes, Tom Ziller of SB Nation first pointed out, making only two substitutions the entire game:

heat sixers tanking
heat sixers tanking


Ultimately all this tanking was for nothing. Because the Brooklyn Nets beat the Magic, the Heat hung on to the 10th spot in the NBA Draft lottery and still have a 90.9% chance of keeping their pick despite the win (it would have been a 2.9% chance if they fell to the No. 11 spot).

But because the Nets-Magic game was happening at the same time, the Sixers and the Heat tanked as if their lives depended on it.

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