Who: Philadelphia 76ers (8-6) and Miami Heat (5-6)
What: A Bounce-back Game for Miami?
When: Monday, November 12, 2018, 7:30 EST
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Why: Because the Heat Still Need a Win
Injuries: Dwyane Wade (Fatherhood/Hanging Out with Gabrielle Union), Waiters and Johnson Out Indefinitely
The Miami Heat collapsed late against a struggling Washington Wizards team in their second straight loss, and Goran Dragic scored no points in 22 minutes. On the bright side, the Heat’s other active guards (McGruder, Richardson, Johnson, and Ellington) all scored in double digits to make up for it. Hassan Whiteside had another double double, and has looked to be the best player on this Heat team of late. Josh Richardson had 24 points as well.
The Sixers, if you haven’t heard/live under a rock, recently traded Jerryd Bayless, Dario Šarić, and Robert Covington (along with a pick) for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton. Due to the NBA’s trade process including physicals and submitting the trade to the league office, Jimmy Butler will not be playing in tonight’s game. This is good news for the Heat, as Šarić and Covington will also not be playing, so the Sixers have a thinner rotation than usual.
The Sixers lost their last game to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday (Memphis is undefeated at home, in case you were wondering), and look to bounce back against Miami.
This is the first meeting of the season for these two teams, who last met in the first round of last year’s Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Sixers won that series 4-1, and Joel Embiid wore a mask the whole time.
With Covington removed from the lineup and Butler not in it yet, rookie Landry Shamet got the start in Memphis, and will probably get it again tonight. Look for Josh Richardson to try and abuse the undersized rookie in the defensive match-up, and force Philly to put a more competent defender on him.
The obvious match-up of the night, though, is Embiid and Whiteside. The two had some pretty one-sided battles in last year’s playoffs, but with Whiteside putting up solid numbers on both ends lately, and currently ranking first in the league in blocks and blocks per game, Embiid might have his hands full tonight.
Defensively, Whiteside and J-Rich need to step up. Removing one half of the Embiid/Simmons combo from the equation is huge for Miami. If the Heat can force the Sixers into contested shots and make them work from the outside rather than inside, that will lead to success. Without Covington, JJ Redick is the only true three-point threat for Philly. Force Fultz, McConnell and Shamet to shoot.
Offensively, take advantage of certain guys. Philadelphia has a lot of competent defenders. Embiid is one of the best defending big men in the NBA and Simmons defending guards can get dangerous very quickly. Force the issue against Shamet and Redick, and take advantage of undersized guys that can’t get it done on that end of the floor.
My final score prediction is 106-101 Philadelphia. Despite the depleted roster, Embiid steps his game up against Whiteside, and Simmons is hard to stop. If Miami can prove me wrong, though, that’s good, and it will probably put my “The Heat Are in Trouble” article on hold.
After tonight’s game, the Heat will start off a quick, two-game road trip in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the Sixers will play the Magic in Orlando, and Jimmy Butler will make his Sixers debut.