The Philadelphia 76ers (43-27) take on the Miami Heat (47-24) tonight in the second of a back-to-back at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Heat and 76ers will be meeting for the fourth and final time this season, with the Heat leading the season series 2-1. Miami won the most recent meeting on 3/5 in Miami by a score of 99-82, in a game in which the Sixers struggled shooting all night long. In that matchup, the Sixers shot 34 percent from the floor and 17 percent from three-point range.
The 76ers are coming into tonight’s matchup following a bad loss against a scrappy Toronto Raptors team, who were without starters OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet. After a great first quarter, the Sixers were out-rebounded and out hustled, allowing the Raptors to claw their way to a victory. The Philadelphia 76ers were out-rebounded 56-40 and gave up 20 offensive rebounds in the process. Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tobias Harris all had less than stellar performances and will have to play well tonight if they want to beat the leading team in the Eastern Conference.
Joel Embiid is the only name on the 76ers’ injury report. Philadelphia’s star center will take the night off after dealing with back soreness for a couple of days and almost getting a tooth knocked out during last night’s game. James Harden mentioned during his postgame press conference that he is planning to play in the second night of the back-to-back.
The Heat come into tonight’s matchup winners of two straight (Pistons and Thunders) but 3-2 in their last five games. The Heat have been the leading team in the Eastern Conference all year, and they play hard no matter who is on the floor for them. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra is terrific at game planning for his opponents and will more than likely play a ton of zone defense against the 76ers. Miami will be without Victor Oladipo (Back), Gabe Vincent (Toe), and Kyle Guy (G-League). Caleb Martin (Knee) is questionable for tonight’s contest while Jimmy Butler (Ankle) is expected to play.
Take a look at some things to watch for in tonight’s matchup:
Hustle & Energy
It has been a theme all season, but last night really showed that the 76ers really lack energy and hustle on some nights. Toronto beat them to what seemed like every rebound and out hustled them the entire night. The Raptors played with more toughness and energy, and that allowed them to stay in the game and ultimately win it. The Miami Heat will play just as harder or even harder than the Raptors, and the Sixers need to match the intensity. If they don’t show some toughness, energy, and hustle, the Heat will try to bully the 76ers all night.
The 76ers need to find Balance
With last night’s loss, the Philadelphia 76ers dropped to 8-3 with James Harden in the lineup, but the road only gets tougher from here. Harden needs to continue to tweak his game to find his balance on the team. He needs to stay aggressive, especially when Embiid isn’t on the floor. He can open up shots for others when he is attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. Harden is also in a shooting slump and only shooting 5-22 from three-point range in the last four games. Eventually, he will play his way out of this current slump, and the Sixers need him to start hitting shots tonight.
You can catch tonight’s action at 7:30 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen live as always on 97.5 the Fanatic FM.