The Philadelphia 76ers will host the Miami Heat in game one of what should be a very intriguing first round playoff series. The pair of teams will meet on Saturday as teams with two very different rosters. Game 1 will begin at 7:00pm Saturday. The 76ers are -6 over the Heat in this game.
The Waiting Game
At this point, the 76ers look to be without their frontcourt anchor Joel Embiid. Embiid has been sidelined for the last 7 games with an orbital bone fracture. Both Embiid and his coach have indicated his status for Saturday’s game to be doubtful. However, no matter how much talk there might be of “Taking things slow”, the fact is that Embiid is a professional athlete that wants to win.
Embiid was on the floor prior to the 76ers season finale, shooting around with the team. My take: If Embiid is physically able, he will be on the floor on Saturday.
The 76ers Without Joel Embiid
Should Embiid sit for Saturday’s game, the 76ers will likely have to rely even more on a steller game from Ben Simmons (Which he is certainly capable of providing), as Embiid averaged nearly 23 points per game this season. Also, being without him would force the 76ers to rely on backup Amir Johnson’s ability to guard Hassan Whiteside, the Heat’s grinding 7 footer that averages a double-double, in the paint.
Miami’s Recipe for Success: Rely on Whiteside
If the Heat want any chance of winning, they have to control the pace of play. The Heat are more of a slow paced team, while the 76ers thrive on pushing the ball down the court and scoring in transition.
Miami’s guards need to be feeding Whiteside the ball at every opportunity, and Goran Dragic will need to be an exceptional pick and roll partner as well. This fact becomes more glaring when you consider that Dion Waiters is out for the season. Waiters contributed 14.3 points per game for the heat, which made him their second leading scorer, trailing only Dragic.
Whiteside averaged 14.0 points per game this season. He will need at least 25 to give his team a chance to compete with the scoring that Philadelphia brings to the table (Especially Simmons), and this is under the assumption that Embiid will sit game 1.
One of Miami’s guards will have to be hitting the outside shot when they are open for the Heat to have a chance, as well. 1 thing that the Heat have going in their favor, however, is what Dwyane Wade was able to do last year with Chicago in the playoffs. It will be hard to count out any team that puts a seasoned champion like Wade on the court.
76ers Top Heat in Game 1
Americans love a good upset, but I just don’t see it happening. Ben Simmons is going to absolutely shine in game 1. I see him going for at least 25 points in game 1. Look for him to pile up the assists as well if Embiid somehow plays. I see a fast paced game with Philadelphia punishing the Miami lineup in transition. With as much depth as Miami has, I still don’t see them succeeding in this type of game. Take the Philadelphia 76ers at -6
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