With the season series sitting at a 1-1 tie, the Heat and Sixers will collide on Thursday for the rubber match of their season series with many playoff implications on the line.
The Sixers sit only one and a half games back of Boston for the No. 2 seed with three games to go, giving them an outside shot at leapfrogging the Celtics. On the flip side, the Heat sit comfortably in the No. 7 seed and look bound for the play-in, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that they could leapfrog the Nets if they win out and the Nets lose out.
With so much on the line, this should be a competitive game in the City of Brotherly Love and one that I fully expect the Sixers to come away with, despite some current questionable tags on Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton.
HEAT VS. SIXERS BETTING ODDS
HEAT VS. SIXERS BEST BETS
Sixers -2.5 (-108, FanDuel)
These teams last met in early March, resulting in a 23-point win for the Sixers in South Beach after they dropped the season’s first matchup by two at home. There was a stark difference in the Heat’s performance in these two games, as they shot 15-37 from three in their win (40.5%) and only 7-29 (24.1%) in their loss.
Both feel like outlier performances, but it’s noteworthy that it took the Heat shooting over 40% from three on 37 attempts (their season average is 34.1%, 27th in the league) to narrowly squeak out a two-point win in a game where James Harden shot only 5-14 from the field.
The Sixers are one of the best three-point defenses in the NBA, allowing the fourth-lowest 3PT% in the league (34.7%) on only 33.3 attempts per game, the 11th-lowest mark in the league. Couple this with the fact that they’re also a daunting interior defense with PJ Tucker and Joel Embiid, and it’s quickly going to be incredibly difficult for Miami to score.
On the flip side, scoring should come with ease for the Sixers, who have the second-best offensive rating in the league on the season (117.1) and have Harden re-finding his form, shooting 50% overall and 44% from three over his last three games. This is all in addition to the form Embiid finds himself in, shooting 54.9% over his last six games while posting 46-point and 52-point outings.
With both Maxey and Melton questionable, it would make sense to see them play in a more difficult matchup at home against the Heat tonight and sit tomorrow, while it would be surprising to see them both sit out. Even in that off chance, the Sixers have depth with Jalen McDaniels and Shake Milton, both of whom provide scoring upside and defensive upside.
With how good the Sixers are overall and how well they match up with this Miami team, I’m not thinking twice about backing them at home.
Risk: 1.08 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit.
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