The Eastern Conference second-round matchup between the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers will pick up tonight at 7:30 PM EST. The Heat secured the victory in Game 1 by a score of 106-92. The Sixers shot the ball incredibly poorly from beyond the three-point arc and struggled to secure rebounds. Joel Embiid’s absence was greatly felt, and the Sixers were unable to secure the win despite holding a lead at halftime.
Game 2 will pick up in Miami with the 76ers in need of a win. Only 7.1% of teams that have gone down 2-0 have been able to come back and win the series, so this is a crucial game for the Sixers. If they can find a way to win Game 2 and head back to Philly with the series tied, the Sixers have to feel pretty good about where they stand. Given the looming return of Joel Embiid, turning this into a best of three series would put the team in a good spot.
- Joel Embiid- OUT (concussion protocols)
Not much has changed for the Philadelphia 76ers as Joel Embiid remains out with a concussion and a fractured orbital. The good news is that Embiid is feeling much better although Doc Rivers stated that he “didn’t want to give false hope…”
- Kyle Lowry- OUT (hamstring)
- Tyler Herro- Questionable (ankle)
- Caleb Martin- Questionable (ankle)
- Max Strus- Questionable (hamstring)
- PJ Tucker- Questionable (calf)
- Gabe Vincent- Questionable (knee)
In all likelihood, it will be just Kyle Lowry who misses this matchup. The Heat had a similarly lengthy injury report leading to game one, but everyone except Lowry took to court. It was initially expected for the former Villanova standout to make his return in the matchup, but the Raptors ruled Kyle Lowry out once again for Game 2.
Unsurprisingly the Heat come into the matchup as the favorite. They comfortably covered this spread in the first game by securing the 14-point victory. Game 1 also went under on the total as the two teams combined for just 198 points.
For the Philadelphia 76ers to find a way to get a victory, they must make some notable adjustments. The most glaring holes are their rebounding and three-point shooting in Game 1. The Heat out-rebounded the Sixers 47-37 in the matchup, and Miami secured 15 offensive rebounds. The Sixers also shot just 6 of 34 (17.6%) from beyond the three-point arc. These two areas of weakness sunk the team’s chances in Game 1. The lack of production at the center position is also a concern, but Doc Rivers has made it extremely clear that there will not be changes in this rotation.
There also should be some expected changes for the Miami Heat in Game 2. The Heat turned the ball over 13 times and shot just 9 of 36 (25%) on three-point attempts. This type of poor shooting should not be expected to last as the Heat led the NBA in team three-point shooting at 37.6% this season. One of the more effective in-game adjustments from Doc Rivers was shifting to zone, but this will not continue to be effective if the Heat have a better shooting night.
While adjustments must be made for everyone, this game largely depends on the level of play from James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. The two combined for just 35 points on 11-28 shooting in Game 1. With Joel Embiid out, each play must be more effective at creating more offense. Harden lacked the desire to take over the game in the way the Sixers needed him to. If James Harden is able to turn back the clocks and catch fire, the 76ers have a chance, but they will need this level of effort to find the win.