Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, April 17: 76ers advance in classic; Bulls-Heat meet Friday

The Sixers rally past the Heat to secure the 7th seed, and the Bulls outlast the Hawks to stay alive for the 8th seed out East.

Starting 5When the comeback’s complete.


What’s inside today’s edition? 

What we know: Sixers-Knicks in the first round, Heat-Bulls on Friday for the 8th seed, and Hawks out

Sixers take 7th: Philly rallied past Miami for its 9th straight win, clinching a playoff spot

Bulls oust Hawks: Coby White’s career-best 42 keeps Chicago alive in hunt for 8th seed

Hearing from you: The Starting 5 fam looks ahead at each Playoff series

Team USA Reactions: See each player react to making the roster for the Paris Olympics


Yesterday’s scores and Friday’s schedule.

The SoFi Play-In Tournament now features two elimination games on Friday, with the Heat hosting the Bulls (7 ET, ESPN) and Kings visiting the Pelicans (9:30 ET, ESPN).


Joel Embiid's double-double and Nicolas Batum's clutch 3s help Philadelphia rally from 14 down to secure its 1st Play-In win.

Four games down, and two (BIG ones) to go in the SoFi NBA Play-In Tournament.

  • Who’s in: The Sixers join the Lakers as the 7th seeds in the East & West, respectively, after winning their 7 vs. 8 games
  • Who’s out: The Hawks join the Warriors in closing the book on the 2023-24 season, as both No. 10 seeds fell in the 9 vs. 10 games
  • Who’s still playing? With their win over the Hawks, the Bulls will face the Heat (the loser of the 7 vs. 8 game with Philly) on Friday night in Miami (7 ET, ESPN) with the winner earning the 8th seed (and a matchup with Boston) and the loser out

  • Keep an eye on: Jimmy Butler injured his right knee in the 1st quarter and continued to play in Miami’s loss. He’ll undergo testing on Thursday
  • 🗣️ Butler: “I hope that I’m fine. I hope that I wake up tomorrow and can still stick-and-move. Right now, I can’t stay that’s the case.”
  • Also keep an eye on: Alex Caruso suffered a left ankle sprain following a collision with teammate Andre Drummond
  • 🗣️ Caruso: “My mindset will be to play ’til my body tells me I can’t.”
  • What about the West? Bulls-Heat will be followed by Kings-Pelicans (9:30 ET, TNT) as the final two teams in the West Play-In battle for the 8th seed and a first-round matchup with OKC
  • No Zion: Williamson has been ruled out for Friday’s West showdown after sustaining a strained hamstring against the Lakers on Tuesday


Sixers win 9th straight: Joel Embiid (23 pts, 15 reb, 5 ast) and Nic Batum (season-high 20 pts, 6 3s off the bench) combined for 43 points in Philly’s 105-104 win over Miami, but their biggest plays of the night did not include them scoring. | Recap

Herro (25 pts, 9 ast, 4 3s) and Jimmy Butler (19 pts, 5 ast, 5 stl) combined for 44 to lead the Heat, who led by as many as 14 points in the first half before the Sixers began to rally.

Drought To Downpour: With 6:57 to play in the 3rd, Philly was down by 11 while shooting 15% (3-20) from 3-point range.

From that point on, the Sixers started raining 3s, shooting 60% (9-15) for the rest of the game as they outscored Miami 57-45 — powered by one of the best games in years from 16-year vet Batum.

  • Batum, who’d reached double-figures just seven times all season, electrified the building with three clutch 3Q treys, then hit two more in the 4th
  • Another X-factor? Free chicken nuggets. Caleb Martin missed consecutive free throws, resulting in a free chicken promotion for the fans, and Sixers fans erupted. After Batum caught fire, they didn’t seem to sit down again.

🗣️ Embiid on Batum and Buddy Hield (who scored all seven of his points in the 4th): “We won the game because of them. Those guys stepped up and we won the game.”

🗣️ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: “We will do this the hard way. That has to be the path right now. We’re going to rest up, treat up, rally around each other, get ready for Friday.”


Coby White explodes for 42 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists to lead the Bulls in their win over the Hawks, 131-116.

Bulls stay alive: Coby White (42 pts, 15-21 FGM, 9 reb, 6 ast) picked the perfect time to have the greatest scoring game of his five-year NBA career to lead the Bulls to a 131-116 win over Atlanta to keep Chicago’s season alive. | Recap

  • White joins MJ as the only players in franchise history with at least 40 points, five assists and zero turnovers in a game since 1977-78
  • 🗣️ White: “It was a dope moment for that to happen. I’m thankful for the fans. It felt like a playoff vibe. The place was rocking tonight.”

Running with the Bulls: Chicago had two key runs in this game – one to build the lead and another to maintain it after the Hawks rallied back.

  • 1st Quarter: Chicago used a 16-2 run to close the opening quarter as they posted 40 points, with half coming from DeMar DeRozan (11) and White (9)
  • 3rd Quarter: Chicago used a 22-7 run to close the 3rd quarter after Atlanta had cut their 18-point lead down to two points

Supporting cast: Nikola Vucevic (24 pts, 12 reb) and DeRozan (22 pts, 9 ast) combined for 46 points to complement White’s big night. Dejounte Murray (30 pts, 1 poster) led the Hawks, while Trae Young (22 pts, 10 ast) and Clint Capela (22 pts, 17 reb) combined for 44

  • 🗣️ DeRozan had jokes discussing White’s performance: “He did alright! He can do a little bit better.”


One of the best parts of this regular season? Taking the journey with the Starting 5 fam, going back to the first edition in October.

To celebrate the run – and the start of the Playoffs – we asked you for what you’re looking forward to most this postseason

  • “All the match-ups. Great first round. MIN vs PHX is gone be lit” – Frederick


  • (4) Cavs vs. (5) Magic (1 ET, ESPN): “The debut of Playoff Paolo and the Magic!” – Alex
  • (3) Wolves vs. (6) Suns (3:30 ET, ESPN): “ANOTHER MONSTROUS DUNK BY ANTHONY EDWARDS!!” – Bogdan
  • (2) Knicks vs. (7) Sixers (6 ET, ESPN): “My New York Knicks taking it all. Although I am wary, the Knicks have been so good despite the absence of injured players.” – Leah
  • (2) Nuggets vs. (7) Lakers (8:30 ET, ABC): “Hearing how big an impact LeBron will have on these Playoffs at age 39.” – Paul


  • (1) Celtics vs. (8) Heat/Bulls (1 ET, ABC): “Seeing if Denver can repeat or if Tatum and Brown can get their 1st ring!!!” – Bill
  • (4) Clippers vs. (5) Mavs (3:30 ET, ABC): “The Kyrie and Luka duo in the Playoffs.” – Harper
  • (3) Bucks vs. (6) Pacers (7 ET, TNT): “Seeing what the Bucks do in the Playoffs and how far they get. I also want to see how the T-Wolves play.” – Liam
  • (1) Thunder vs. (8) Pelicans/Kings (9:30 ET, TNT): “The young OKC Thunder team continuing their amazing year and showing the country what OKC has to give.” – Sharon

Thanks for riding with us all season long. Can’t wait to bring you on the next stage of the journey


The 12 players that will represent Team USA at the Olympics in Paris this summer were announced by USA Basketball on Wednesday and the cameras were rolling to capture each player’s reaction to the news.

Team USA and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, along with Dream Teamer and Warriors legend Chris Mullin, presented Curry with his Team USA jersey in a gift bag as a way to give him “something that you don’t have.”

Check out some of our favorite reactions as the team received the news of their summer plans.

  • Stephen Curry (Warriors): “Representing Team USA in the Olympics is a dream come true. … There’s so many greats that have worn this jersey at that stage and brought home the gold so we want to be that team that does it as well.”
  • Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers): “A moment I’ve wanted my whole life so it’s really cool to be able to get this honor and I won’t take it for granted.”

  • Jrue Holiday (Celtics): “I think to represent my country and my family is the most important thing, so I’m super honored and very humbled.”
  • Joel Embiid (76ers): “I really wanted to participate in the Olympics. That’s been my goal and my dream.”
  • LeBron James (Lakers): “I’m going to commit my mind, body and soul to being out there for Team USA, being out there representing our country with the utmost respect and go out there and play.”

The Paris Olympic Games will be held from July 26 – Aug. 11 as the United States looks to win its fifth-consecutive gold medal. But they will face some of the NBA’s biggest stars along the way representing countries around the globe.