The Miami Heat will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday night to face off against the 76ers. Coming off of their 118-105 road win over Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, Miami heads south for a matchup against Philadelphia which beat the Celtics 103-101 on Tuesday.
Philadelphia currently sits atop the Eastern Conference at No. 3.
Joel Embiid, who may have earned himself the MVP Award with his performance against Boston on Tuesday, has been a significant factor in Philadelphia’s success this season. In that game, Embiid scored 52 points on 20-of-25 shooting – an improbable feat given how few points the 76ers scored overall (103).
Embiid’s remarkable play has been the talk of the town all season – and for a good reason. However, that has also allowed some of his teammates’ shortcomings to slip through the cracks.
Philadelphia has won three of its past four games and posted a Defensive Rating of 119.5 during that span – good enough to rank 22nd in the NBA and increase from their season rating of 112.6.
Additionally, Embiid was responsible for more than 50% of Philadelphia’s points against Boston – a common trend lately. James Harden and Tyrese Maxey are the only other players averaging double figures in four games played this season.
The Miami Heat are on a two-game winning streak, which was much needed as they near the playoffs.
Before those two victories, Miami lost three consecutive games to Brooklyn, Toronto and New York. A lack of offense was the prevailing theme throughout that span, as Miami failed to score more than 100 points in any of those contests.
The Heat’s lackluster scoring output was due to two factors: their slow pace. NBA.com reports that Miami generated a league-low 90.33 offensive possessions per game during that three-game stretch – four less than their closest rival.
The Heat’s poor shooting efficiency was another issue; they shot 43.9% from the floor and 34.3% from behind the arc in those three games, giving themselves few chances to score and rarely converting those chances when they had them.
Miami’s offense has shown signs of life over the past two games, posting a league-best 130.0 Offensive Rating during their winning streak.
It should come as no shock that Embiid is performing at such a high level on offense. Still, his recent lack of support and some vulnerability on defense has put the 76ers in an interesting situation. Therefore, the Heat will cover the spread as a road underdog.
Philadelphia already has several key players listed as questionable on their injury report, including Maxey, PJ Tucker and De’Anthony Melton. If these players go down with injuries, Philadelphia could potentially miss a significant chunk of production from both ends of the floor.
Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo were listed as out for Miami, though both played in their last game against the Pistons.
The Heat has more to play for and is the healthier team, potentially setting them up to keep this game close. I would take the Heat with a spread of three, so I am definitely jumping all over +5.5!
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