Philadelphia at Miami
Time: 6:30 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: MIA -3.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Miami Heat has won six of its last 10 SU and at 33-15 are seeded No. 4 in the East. It hosts visiting Philadelphia as 3.5-point favorites according to the latest odds from oddsmakers at 5dimes. The over/under is set at 213 points, and the game will tip-off at 6:30 PM (CST) on NBA TV.
The Miami Heat lead the Southeast division as one of the NBA’s early surprise teams. Miami has won six of its last 10 overall and is 33-15 thus far.
The Heat seems to be really adapting to having Jimmy Butler as its leader. He has increased the defensive intensity, and Miami’s offense ranks No. 13 at 112.1 points per game while holding opponents to 108.4, a win differential of +3.9 points.
Miami has moved past the play of Hassan Whiteside and instead promoted Bam Adebayo as the premier big man of the team. He has fully responded. Adebayo is averaging 15.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game while functioning as a post playmaker. Butler is the key cog, though, at 20.3 points and 7 assists per game. That is not to ignore the great play of undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn, the No.2 scorer behind Butler at 16.2 points and 3.5 assists per game. For a team that was expected to have offensive issues, it has been far from the case. Miami is shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 37.9 percent on threes (33.7 attempts per game). Rounding out the rotation is veteran point guard Goran Dragic and rookie Tyler Herro. Both have been essential.
While Dragic’s role has declined, he is still seeing 28.4 minutes per game and averaging just under 16 points per game. Herro is already a key rotation player, playing 27.7 minutes per game and averaging 13.2 points per game while shooting 39.2 percent from three. All in all, the Heat are both a deep and talented team and far better than expected. Credit some of that to Erik Spoelstra, but the rest of the credit falls on a team of players that are all outperforming preseason expectations.
The Heat should be able to contend in the East. It poses a formidable threat to all of the contending teams, including the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat is wired for playoff success, and if it obtains Justise Winslow in time to work him into game shape, it will be that much stronger.
PHILADELPHIA NEWS & NOTES:
The 76ers are just 9-17 on the road where it meets the Miami Heat tonight. The Sixers are seeded No. 6 in the East currently, with a nine-game lead over No. 7 Brooklyn. Philadelphia trails No. 2 Toronto by five full games now.
Philadelphia averages 108.4 points per game, ranking No. 22 in the Association in scoring. It allows 105.0 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +3.9 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals/blocks in just 31.1 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better. Embiid has also appeared in only 31 games to this point and is currently now cleared for non-contact conditioning drills. He is expected to be evaluated again in another week.
Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Ben Simmons is certainly a unique point guard, but he has not been without his issues. The 6’9” point-forward is averaging 14.9 points, seven rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, but the mantra that he “cannot shoot” is not dying any sort of quick death. While Simmons shoots a very fine 56.3 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots, and he very rarely (0.1 per game) shoots the triple.
It does affect matters. Teams do not respect Simmons’ shooting ability and that makes it easier to double team Embiid and Harris. Until Simmons gains a respectable mid-range jumper and potentially even a three, it is tough to imagine the Sixers making that final step towards true contention. Philadelphia is a good team, but in some senses, it is an easy team to prepare for. While Embiid is extra-worldly, Simmons’ upside is quite mitigated by his errant shooting. It is not much different than the trajectory seen in the career of Rajon Rondo. Either add a respectable jump shot or keep launching uncontested bricks. It is up to Simmons which it is.