This matchup will have two crucial X-Factor players that could sway the series in their team’s favor.
The first and most obvious is Joel Embiid. Embiid is currently recovering from an injury that caused him to miss the last eight games of the regular season. As of right now, Embiid is not expected to play in game one of this series. But, Embiid has cleared concussion protocol and could make his return at any time. Embiids health will have a huge impact on how the 76ers perform in this series. Without Embiid in the lineup, the 76ers won 57% of their games this season. In contrast, the 76ers won 66% of the games in which Embiid was able to play. It is no question that Embiid makes this team better on both the offensive and defensive end.
The next X-Factor player is Josh Richardson of the Miami Heat. Richardson is one of the more underrated players the NBA has to offer. At 24 years old, Richardson averages 12.9 points on 45% shooting. In addition to the offense, Richardson is a reliable defender who averages 1.5 steals per game. Richardson could be a difference maker for the Miami Heat in this series. If Richardson is able to hit timely shots when the Heat needs him, this could prove to be a very interesting matchup.
Both of these players will be key in the final result of the series. If Embiid is able to play, the 76ers may win this matchup in a landslide. But, the Miami Heat have their own secret weapon as well. Richardson is sure to surprise a few people in this series.