Very Close Sixers-Heat Season Series Will Go Miami’s Way in Finale

heat sixers

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 4:46 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2018 4:46 PM UTC

The 76ers and Heat have played three close, entertaining games this year and another is likely Thursday night as they close the season series in Miami.

Philadelphia 76ers (35-28, 25-26-2 ATS) at Miami Heat (34-31, 32-28-5 ATS)Free NBA Pick: HeatBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s a potentially crucial game in the Eastern Conference playoff race Thursday night as Philadelphia and Miami meet for the final time this season, a 7:30 p.m. ET tipoff from AmericanAirlines Arena (yep, no space).

Interesting scheduling here as the 76ers and Heat didn’t play for the first time this season until Feb. 2 and now will play a fourth game barely more than a month later. The home team has won all three in the season series but covered just once overall.

On Feb. 2 in Philly, the Sixers covered a 4-point spread in a 103-97 victory. Joel Embiid had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Dario Saric add his own double-double of 17 points and 10 boards, and Ben Simmons had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists without a turnover in 35 minutes. Miami’s starting five totaled just 40 points. On Valentine’s Day also in Philadelphia, the 76ers failed to cover a 4-point spread but won 104-102. The Heat blew a 23-point halftime lead, and Philly was without Embiid. Simmons was great with a triple-double of 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Tyler Johnson made it a cover for Heat backers on a 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left.

Finally, on Feb. 27 in south Florida, the Heat were 1-point favorites and that’s what they won by: 102-101. Dwyane Wade finished with a season-high 27, including 15 of Miami’s final 17, and his jumper with 5.9 seconds remaining was the winner. Who knows, that could be the final game-winner in Wade’s Hall of Fame career. JJ Redick's wide-open 3-pointer after that missed. Philly led by 10 in the fourth.

Miami is 37-21 all-time at home in the regular season against the 76ers. The home team has covered five of the past seven in the series.

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Both Travel To South Florida

As of Thursday, Philadelphia is sixth in the Eastern Conference standings but only two games ahead of No. 8 Miami. The Sixers were also just two behind No. 3 Cleveland. So, there’s likely to be plenty of shuffling the rest of the way; I could see a 4-5 first-round matchup between the 76ers and Heat. It does seem like the East field is set in terms of the eight postseason teams because Miami has a sizable lead over the No. 9 Pistons, who are in a free-fall.

The Heat are consistent in that they aren’t going to win a bunch of a games in a row – they have won at least three straight just twice all year and not since a season-high seven-game winning streak from Dec. 30-Jan. 14. Miami had a chance for a third win in a row Tuesday in the second of a back-to-back in Washington but lost 117-113 in overtime as 4-point underdogs.

Wade and Kelly Olynyk both missed tying shots late in the overtime, and then the Wizards hit two free throws to ice it. The Heat only led once all game; Wade did convert a 3-point play to send it to overtime. He finished with 22 points, his third 20-point game in 10 outings for the Heat since being traded by Cleveland. Wade had only three 20-point games in 46 appearances with the Cavs.

You won’t win many games when the opposition shoots 58.3 percent from 3-point range way Washington did. The Heat have been pretty good in that regard this season, allowing teams to hit only 36.1 percent from deep – that’s Top 10 in the NBA. Miami played a fourth straight game without guard Wayne Ellington due to a thigh bruise, but he’s getting close. He’s one of the team’s better 3-point shooters.

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.@BenSimmons25 records 16 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds in the win over Charlotte. #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/ELmtvHBh4T

— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 7, 2018
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The 76ers are 1-1 on a four-game trip, losing in Milwaukee on Sunday but beating the Hornets on Tuesday in Charlotte, 128-114. Embiid had 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, although he was largely outplayed by Dwight Howard. Simmons was great, hitting 8-for-9 for 16 points with 13 assists and eight rebounds.

Are you aware that Simmons still hasn’t made a 3-pointer this season? The Rookie of the Year favorite has only attempted 10 and they’ve all been desperation ones (end of quarter, shot clock, etc.). The Sixers’ 128 points were their second-most all season and their 57.5 percent shooting was a season high. The Sixers are a good team because of Simmons and Embiid, but they are mega-dangerous when Robert Covington and Saric are also balling. Covington’s 22 points Tuesday were his most since Dec. 2.

Probably could have picked an easier game to handicap on Thursday because this series has been so close this season. I lean the Heat for a Thursday NBA pick as Philly has covered just two of its past 10 road games, and Miami is 18-7 ATS in its past 25 following a loss.

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