Sixers vs. Heat: How to watch, betting preview & predictions

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) aims a three point shot as Miami Heat forwards Kevin Love (42) and Haywood Highsmith (24) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

For all of their efforts at the end of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t avoid the Play-In Tournament, which starts with a game against the Miami Heat.

At the end of the season, despite an eight-game winning streak, Joel Embiid’s return, and Tyrese Maxey’s emergence, the NBA considers the divisions for the only time during the season. Though tied with the Pacers and Magic, the Sixers are in the play-in tournament due to this unfortunate tie-breaker.

Sixers game information

Who: Miami Heat (0-0) at Philadelphia 76ers (0-0)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

Watch: ESPN

Latest on the Sixers

Sixers 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey, left, drives to the basket against Brooklyn Nets’ Noah Clowney, center, and Jalen Wilson, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 107-86. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Sixers are the hottest team in the NBA as the play-in tournament starts, having won eight games in a row to close out the regular season. Joel Embiid’s return after missing two months following knee surgery has done wonders for the team, as they’ve gone right back to winning like they were to start the season.

Embiid, in his five games since returning, has averaged 30.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists while shooting 48.1% on his three-point attempts. (With his knee being hurt, it seems that Embiid just worked on his range.)

Embiid’s return has freed up Tyrese Maxey, who no longer has to face defenses being focused on shutting him down. Against the Heat, Maxey truly thrives with 27.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 8.3 assists in four games against them this season. Maxey has made it clear that he’s learned from the past few seasons and worked on his conditioning, stating that “this is the best I feel going into the playoffs since I started playing in the NBA”.

With the return of Embiid, the emergence of Maxey, and Kelly Oubre Jr. averaging 18.5 points and 6.6 rebounds over his last ten games, the Sixers have a trio of players they can count on heading into the playoffs.

Nico Batum gives them the hard-nosed, do-it-all defensive player, and Kyle Lowry has seemed rejuvenated since joining the team. The Sixers have a full lineup that looks to be able to succeed around Embiid. But first, they need to get into the playoffs.

Latest on the Heat

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, right, dribbles under pressure from Toronto Raptors forward Kelly Olynyk, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

While the Heat are always going to be looked at as a tough team, and they are, they’ve coasted into the play-in tournament. They’re coming off two straight wins, both over the Raptors, and their recent wins have been over teams like the Raptors, Hawks, Wizards, and Rockets, not exactly tough teams to beat.

While guard Terry Rozier didn’t travel with the team and will miss Wednesday night’s game, the Heat still boast a formidable trio of Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo.

Herro and Butler shared the teams scoring lead with 20.8 points per game each. Adebayo, at 19.3 points per game, wasn’t very far behind them. Adebayo is going to play the Sixers and specifically Embiid, very tough and his 10.4 rebounds per game is a career high. He’s a well rounded player that can give teams fits with his aggressiveness, defense, and scoring. For his career though, Embiid has performed well against him.

Having Rozier miss the game is going to be huge for the Heat as he’s become a vital part of their rotations, giving them a secondary scorer that can give them upwards of 25 points on any given night. He takes a lot of pressure off of Herro and Butler, so missing tonight’s game will just make it a little more difficult for those two. But, if you know anything about Jimmy Butler, that’s where he thrives.

What to watch for tonight

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) breaks away from Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith and forward Caleb Martin during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

The Sixers, if they win tonight will automatically take the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and face off against the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. The loser of tonight’s game will face the winner of the Hawks vs. Bulls to see who gets the 8th seed in the East and the right to play the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

The Sixers don’t seem too concerned with their seeding as Joel Embiid has stated he didn’t care where they ended up. What the Sixers are now is healthy and with the return of Embiid, who hasn’t faced the usual end of the season attacks, physically, and should be the healthiest he’s been to start the playoffs, they should be in a good position to go further in the playoffs than just the second round.

In order to get there, they have to win the play-in, and that doesn’t seem like a very hard task considering who they’ll play and how the Sixers normally play. With Embiid, the Sixers have the second-highest winning percentage in the league, right behind the Celtics, so the lower seed, from their decline while he was out, isn’t as big of a deal as many may have thought.

They’ll need to be ready for what the Heat will bring to them tonight. As with Adebayo, there are sure to be some plays that you’ll question his intent, but the Sixers have to be above his antics. They also can’t get wrapped up in the mystique of Jimmy Butler.

While Butler is a very good player, the intensity he brings is more of what’s led to this aura that he’s a supreme player who can take down teams. In the playoffs, Butler is 59-60 for his career. While he’s upped his production over the past few years in the playoffs, he’s not led his team to a title, and this year’s Heat team seems to be following in those same footsteps.

For all of the hoopla that surrounds Butler, especially given his short time in Philly and the whole “choosing of Harris over Butler” narrative, he’s not won a thing. I’m not knocking Jimmy Butler, but the facts remain, and this season, there’s no reason that the Sixers can’t go far in the playoffs.

It all starts tonight.

If the Sixers need any more motivation, look no further than Butler. When asked about having to play the Sixers on the road, he stated, “Whenever we get on the road, our back against the wall a little bit. I guess we get out of our comfort zone and start making things happen, so I’m actually glad we’re on the road.”


Sixers 124 – Heat 111