The Miami Heat face the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night for the second consecutive game after the 76ers beat the Heat in overtime on Tuesday 137 - 134.
After the Heat had their Sunday game vs the Celtics postponed because they couldn’t field the minimum number of players, they played with the minimum number of players (eight) against the Sixers. While the Sixers had some notable absences too, they had both of their former All-Stars available while the Heat were without theirs - Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Goran Dragic. Ben Simmons fouled out while scoring just five points on two shot attempts, but Joel Embiid scored a season-high 45 points to lead Philadelphia to a win.
The Heat surprised some people by making Tuesday’s game as close as it was. Expect the Heat to compete again and cover the double-digit spread.
Shorthanded HeatOutside of Andre Iguodala and Chris Silva, all six of the other Heat players were efficient offensively. Miami should be able to score, but their defense will determine if they can cover.
The Heat had several impressive performances from its younger players. Tyler Herro scored a career-high 34 points while Gabe Vincent added a career-high 24 points. Rookie Precious Achiuwa recorded his first double-double with career-highs in minutes (36), points (17), and rebounds (13). The Heat have the scoring ability to beat the Sixers with these three players along with Duncan Robinson, Kelly Olynyk, and Max Strus who can catch fire at any moment. Despite only having eight players available, the Heat's strict commitment to conditioning puts them in a better spot than other teams. The concern for the Heat lies on the defensive end.
The only three certainties in life are death, taxes, and Danny Green lighting up the Miami Heat, no matter which colors are on his uniform. Green scored a season-high 29 points (previous high was 15) while making a career-high nine threes on 21 attempts. The Heat simply couldn’t guard Joel Embiid inside, and this led to too many open threes for Green.
The Heat will likely play with the same eight players, but Meyers Leonard (shoulder) has an outside chance to play as he is listed as doubtful. If he is healthy, he gives the Heat a bigger body to help with Embiid down low. Olynyk isn’t the defender inside that Leonard or Adebayo is, and consequently, the Heat had Achiuwa guard Embiid for most of the night. While Achiuwa was able to use his speed advantage to score offensively, he wasn’t physically big enough to keep Embiid from getting wherever he wanted or seeing passing lanes to find the open man.
Feed EmbiidWhile the Heat may have one more player available, the Sixers likely add Shake Milton, Tobias Harris, Terrance Ferguson, and Matisse Thybule back to the rotation as they are all probable to return from health and safety protocols. Ben Simmons (knee) and Joel Embiid (back) are both probable to play, but if you want to back the Sixers here, I’d wait to do so until confirming that they will both play. The Sixers will be without Seth Curry, Furkan Korkmaz, and Vincent Parker (health and safety protocol).
The Sixers should again play through Embiid with Adebayo and Butler unavailable to make life difficult for him. Ben Simmons only had two shot attempts on Tuesday (which he made both of), and I expect a nice bounce-back game for him as the Heat are down all of their best perimeter defenders except Iguodala (who played the second-fewest minutes of the eight Heat players). The Heat should be better at limiting opportunities for Embiid and trying to limit open threes. These factors and the return of Tobias Harris to further loosen the defense should give a motivated Simmons an opportunity for a strong performance.
- 76ers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- 76ers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring more than 125 points in their previous game.
- 76ers are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 125 points in their previous game.
- Heat are 11-2-1 ATS in their last 14 Thursday games.
- Heat are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Heat are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.