Heat vs. 76ers Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Miami Heat got up off the dirt in Game 5 and took care of business at home. Outside of terrible shooting performance in Game 4, the Heat have controlled the majority of this series — Game 3 was the only game where the Philadelphia 76ers were able to play their game without shot variance helping them to the extreme.
On the other side, the Sixers had no life in Game 5. They rolled over and got squashed. Call it exhaustion, call it the team’s identity, call it a hangover from Joel Embiid not winning the MVP (a truly preposterous notion), but the Sixers just weren’t ready to play in the most important game of their season.
Now the Sixers are on the brink of elimination. Miami is +37 in this series through five games, but -5 in the playoffs overall on the road.
Can the Heat put the Sixers down for the count? Or will Embiid and Philly rally to force one more on South Beach?
Heat Defense Has Been the Difference
Nothing in this series has moved me off of what I thought when I wrote the series preview and bet Miami. Miami’s a better team. They are more disciplined, deeper, and have arguably the second-best player in the playoffs in Jimmy Butler.
I went big on Miami in Game 5 and that paid off. The problem here is shot variance. The weakness for the Heat is absolutely their offense. Their defense doesn’t get enough credit for how it absolutely smothers all opponents, including the Sixers. The discussion about the Sixers in Game 5 was about them being lifeless, low energy, sloppy. But the Heat also made them way.
Defense travels, and I think the Heat will have a better performance than the 120 Defensive Rating they gave up in Game 4. But I can’t trust the offense. Miami in the playoffs has shot 37% at home and 27% on the road from 3-point range. That differential is staggering.
In Games 3 and 4, Miami shot 10-of-40 on uncontested or lightly contested 3-point attempts. They are 20-of-51 in this series at home.
I don’t see any tactical adjustments that the Heat need to make; they largely figured out the Sixers in Game 4 — they just shot terribly — and the format worked for Game 5 because they hit shots. There aren’t many things Sixers will likely do better because they don’t have the personnel for it.
The Heat have the better team and have created better looks than the Sixers, both by eye test and statistically. They have the advantage in points in the paint, points off turnovers, and second-chance points.
They are more physical, more locked in and more consistent. They should win this game. But they might shoot like trash again.
Do the 76ers Have Any Adjustments Left?
The upside for the Sixers is that they are winning the Embiid matchup. Embiid is shooting 6-of-11 with Bam Adebayo contesting, when he has historically struggled with Adebayo. But in three games, he only has 20 shots attempts against Adebayo and Dedmon combined.
Embiid clearly isn’t right. The broken face and thumb injury have limited him and taken his spark. He needs someone to step up and carry and that might just be too much for James Harden to do at this point in his career.
Harden was great in Game 4, but terrible in Game 5. That’s all pretty predictable. When a player starts to lose his burst, it doesn’t leave permanently, it comes and goes.
The one consistent for the Sixers has been Tyrese Maxey, but too often the Sixers look him off instead of trusting him to create in halfcourt sets. Tobias Harris played great to start the series, but has struggled the last few games.
The 76ers are running out of options. Danny Green has shot 12-of-17 in the last three games from 3-point range, including 7-of-9 in Game 3. But since that game, the Heat have held him to eight 3-point attempts total. They’ve started staying home and bringing help from other areas to make sure it’s not Green getting volume looks.
Can Green boost the offense? Will Georges Niang finally make a shot? Maybe Shake Milton has a game? The Sixers’ offensive options just aren’t great.
I’m not sold on the Sixers’ defense either. They’ve given up a higher expected field goal percentage than they’ve created. The Sixers are trying to switch against the Heat, so in Game 5, Miami started spacing out Embiid much the same way that teams have done to the Utah Jazz.
Perhaps you’re wondering why Embiid cares about the corner 3 on this play, and that’s likely an adjustment. Switching and just leaving an opponent wide open is probably the move. Dedmon is 0-of-7 from behind the arc in the playoffs, Adebayo even hasn’t attempted one.
The problem is that if he just leaves those bigs on the perimeter, Miami will reverse the ball and wind up with a hand-off 3-pointer. The Heat scored 18 points on hand-off sequences in Game 5.
If Embiid has to play up, which he does, then the paint is open. Miami’s actually shooting 70% with Butler and Embiid both on the floor in this series, on a significant number of attempts. The idea that Embiid changed the defense for the Sixers, as I wrote before Game 5, was just wrong.
I can’t trust the Sixers to beat a better team that has responded to the slide in Game 4 by figuring out some way to counter, and I can’t trust the Heat to hit shots on the road.
Here are two scenarios:
- A Heat win looks like them absolutely smothering the Sixers’ offense as they have in four of the five games so far.
- A Sixers win looks like the Heat missing a ton of shots as they did in Games 3 and 4 and as they have done on the road throughout the playoffs.
You can insulate yourself by playing the combined over, or try and focus in on the Sixers side. So let’s play the under, and add on with the Sixers team total under.
Pick: Under 207.5 | Sixers under 104.5