76ers’ Round 2 Matchup Begins in Miami
The 76ers are in the Sunshine State, set to take on the No. 1 Miami Heat in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series opener Monday.
In the absence of Joel Embiid (facial fracture / concussion), the Sixers’ leading scorer and rebounder in Round 1 (averaging 26.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game versus Toronto), Doc Rivers and the Sixers expressed confidence in their ability to continue advancing.
“This team has a great belief system,” Rivers said following Saturday’s practice. “We’ve had a lot of stuff thrown at us this year with guys out. This team will be ready when we get to Miami.”
Tobias Harris - who averaged 17.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game against the Raptors and contributed a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double in Game 6 - echoed his head coach.
“This has been a resilient group all year,” Harris said Saturday. “Nothing has changed in that regard.”
James Harden, after contributing 19.0 points per game and a team-high 10.2 assists per game in Round 1, is expected to take on an enhanced role with Embiid sidelined - a role teammates like Georges Niang support wholeheartedly.
“[James] is just a basketball savant,” Niang said following Sunday’s practice. “He’s tremendous to play alongside.”
Harden shone in the Sixers’ close-out Game 6 performance Thursday, recording a 22-point, 15-assist double-double, plus six rebounds. Harden shot 7-for-12 from the field, a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line, and finished at a game-high +38 in his 42 minutes of play.
Tyrese Maxey also excelled in Game 6, finishing with 25 points, three rebounds, and eight assists, shooting 8-for-16 from the field, 5-for-12 from long range, and 4-for-4 from the free throw line in his team-high 44 minutes of play.
The Sixers and Heat split their regular season series, 2-2. The Sixers took the most recent meeting between the teams on March 21, in the absence of both Embiid and Harden. 113-106. Maxey scored a team-high 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting in the win.
Embiid (facial fracture / concussion) is out for Game 1, while Charles Bassey (right shoulder soreness) is questionable.
Game 1 tips at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Heat won their first round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, 4-1, closing that series Tuesday with a 97-94 victory.
Victor Oladipo stepped up big for Miami in the absence of Jimmy Butler (right knee inflammation) in Game 5, finishing with a team-best 23 points, plus three assists and three steals.
Bam Adebayo notched a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double, plus four assists, a steal, and a block, while Tyler Herro added a bench-high 16 points, four assists, and two steals.
Butler has been Miami’s leading scorer in these playoffs thus far, averaging 30.5 points per game, plus 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.8 steals per game in his four Round 1 appearances.
Kyle Lowry (left hamstring strain) is out for Game 1, while Jimmy Butler (right knee inflammation), Tyler Herro (chest respiratory illness), Caleb Martin (left ankle sprain) Markieff Morris (chest respiratory illness), Max Strus (right hamstring strain), and P.J. Tucker (right calf strain) are all questionable.
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