After taking care of business against their respective opponents in the first round, the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers will square off against each other in the Eastern Conference semifinals for a chance to advance to the conference finals. The Heat took down the Atlanta Hawks in five games in the first round, while the Sixers dispatched the Toronto Raptors in six games. This will be the first postseason meeting between Miami and Philadelphia since 2018 when the Sixers bested the Heat in five games in the first round.
Both teams are a bit banged up heading into the series. Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid is out indefinitely after suffering a right orbital fracture and mild concussion against Toronto. Embiid was already playing with a torn ligament in his right thumb that will require surgery after the season. Meanwhile, Heat guard Kyle Lowry has been ruled out of Game 1 due to a hamstring strain.
For what it’s worth, the two teams split their four regular-season meetings, both winning once at home and once on the road. With that said,
(1) Miami Heat vs. (4) Philadelphia 76ers
- When: Monday, May 2 | 7:30 p.m. ET
- Where: FTX Arena — Miami, Florida
- TV: TNT | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: MIA -330; PHI +270; O/U 208.5 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Heat: The Heat will have to overcome Kyle Lowry’s absence in this game. That likely means increased playmaking responsibilities for guys like Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo. Miami has more than enough options to get by without Lowry to start the series, but his absence still obviously isn’t ideal. With the possibility that Embiid returns later in the series, the Heat won’t want to waste an opportunity to secure a win while he’s on the sideline.
76ers: Obviously, Embiid’s absence is the biggest storyline for the Sixers heading into Game 1. He may return later in the series, but he definitely won’t be available early on, and it will be up to the rest of Philadelphia’s roster to step up. Specifically, James Harden will be expected to carry a much larger load on the offensive end, and it will be interesting to see how he handles that task. Harden is one of the deadliest scorers of all time, but he’s been more of a distributor since he was traded to the Sixers. Now, the Sixers will need him to consistently generate generate his own offense while still creating opportunities for his teammates.
With Embiid sidelined for the game, the Heat definitely have the advantage. It will be easier for them to focus defensive attention on guys like Harden, Harris and Maxey without Embiid. Plus, they have the benefit of playing at home to start off the series. This series could potentially be a long one, but look for the Heat to take advantage of the shorthanded Sixers in Game 1. Pick: Heat – 7.5