Image Credit: Michael Tipton
Who: Philadelphia 76ers (50-30) at Miami Heat (38-42)
What: One Last Dance
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, WADE COUNTY, Florida
When: Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 7:30 PM EST
Injuries: O-Josh Richardson (Groin)
This is probably it. The Heat have lost four straight, and slowly watched themselves fall out of a playoff spot. Chances are slim that they make it, but that doesn’t mean tonight isn’t special. Dwyane Wade’s final game in AmericanAirlines Arena is tonight, and it’s going to be really hard not to cry.
Watch this, then cry.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 9, 2019
The Sixers stomped on the Bulls, 116-96, on Saturday. They’ve brought themselves within reach of a 52-30 season, something that Sixers fans five years ago couldn’t have dreamed of. Just four years ago, they won 10 games. Now, they’ve cracked 50. How things can change.
The Heat lost to the Raptors in overtime on Sunday, 117-109, in Toronto. It was a valiant effort, but that marks their fourth straight loss, and has pushed them to the brink of playoff elimination.
These teams have met twice before this season, and the Sixers have taken both meetings. This is obviously their last meeting of the year.
Miami hasn’t faced a “full strength” Philadelphia all season. In the first match, the Sixers hadn’t bolstered their roster with all-star caliber players Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris yet, and in the second meeting, Joel Embiid was hurt. This game is no different, as Embiid and Reddick will be sitting out against the Heat.
This is obviously a must-win for Miami, and Embiid sitting is an opportunity for Bam Adebayo to have a solid game against the slower, taller Boban Marjonovic.
The Heat will still have to account for Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris, though. Those guys account for 54 points per game between them. Their one weakness, one Miami can easily exploit, is perimeter shooting.
Obviously, Simmons can’t shoot. Butler is marginally okay, and Harris is a solid shooter, but without Reddick curling off screens and hitting threes, the Sixers don’t really make a lot. The team shoots about 30 threes per game, and makes about 10. Reddick shoots eight, and makes three on average.
Without Embiid anchoring the middle, their defensive weakness shows. Force the defense to collapse around driving players, and kick the ball out to shooters. Defenders will flock to the middle without Embiid’s strong defensive presence, and guys will be left open. If I’m Erik Spoelstra, I’m looking for Wade and Dragic to do a lot of the driving.
Final Score Prediction: 108-104 Heat. Wade is going to get the win, one way or another.
The Sixers close out their regular season against the Bulls on Wednesday.
The Heat close their regular season out, still hunting for a playoff spot, against the Nets on Wednesday.
Sigh. The Heat have to win against both the Sixers, and the Nets. The Pistons have to lose to both the Grizzlies and the Knicks, which most likely isn’t happening. And on top of that, the Hornets have to lose to either the Cavaliers or the Magic. All of those things need to happen for Wade and the Heat to make the playoffs in their franchise player’s final season.
Do we believe in miracles?