Game Preview: Sixers will try to light a fire against Heat

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The Sixers followed their incredible Christmas day win by laying an absolute egg of a game against the Magic in Orlando. The team needs to move on and leave this depressing loss behind them. Staying in-state, the Sixers will travel from Orlando to Miami to face off against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.

The Sixers are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference but only on and a half games back of the second seed. The Heat are the third seed so this game is crucial. This will already be the third meeting between the two teams with the series currently being split 1-1.

Keys to the Game

Let’s get physical, physical

When the Sixers lose, the consistent theme is that they played soft, this was the case last night against the lowly Orlando Magic. The Sixers need to play with the physicality that they started the season with. Work the ball down low, set hard screens, defend hard, the team as a unit needs to play with more intensity.

This team is built for the grind, the roster is full of length and power. The Sixers need to find that inspiration for bully-ball that they once had if they’re going to beat the Heat. Against a physical team like the Heat it’s even more important to match that physicality. Jimmy Butler and the Heat will absolutely try to outwork the Sixers and the team needs to push back.

Find your comfort in the Zone

Head Coach Eric Spolestra was the first coach to use a heavy zone defense against the Sixers this season. It worked perfectly as Coach Brett Brown couldn’t help the team adjust. The Sixers continued to struggle against the zone as other teams began to utilize it. The only successful game against it was against the Wizards who boast one of the worst defenses in the NBA.

When the zone comes, and it will, the offense will need to adjust accordingly. Ball movement is a must and shooters need to be ready at all times. Run the offense through Embiid, wait for the double-team and kick out to the open man. When you can’t reach Embiid in the post, offensive rotations will be key. Keep the offense moving and you can force a mismatch in the zone and can work the height advantage.

Brett Brown needs to find a way to beat the inevitable zone defense he will face tonight. Brown tends to struggle against some of the more cerebral coaches in the NBA but hopefully, he will turn things around tonight.

Prediction

The Sixers are hitting a tough stretch with their next eight opponents being playoff teams. Unless something drastic happens, I see this team finishing .500 during that span. The Sixers will have troubles containing the Heat tonight and will sadly drop the game.

FINAL SCORE: SIXERS 107 – HEAT 113

Catch the game tonight at 8:00 PM EST. Coverage begins at 7:30 and you can watch on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen live at 97.5 FM the Fanatic.

 Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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