Miami Heat vs Philadelphia 76ers: Lineups, preview & prediction 4/16/18
The Sixers can extend their amazing winning streak to 18 straight games if they can once again cool off the Heat in Game 2.
The Philadelphia 76ers won their 17th consecutive game in a row in some style as they demolished the Miami Heat, 130-103, in Game 1 of their first-round series. It was yet another spectacular team effort from the Sixers led by rookie sensation Ben Simmons, who went for 17 points, nine rebounds, and 14 assists in his playoff debut.
The outstanding shooting guard platoon of JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli kept up their hot shooting by combining for 53 points on 8-of-13 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, power forwards Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also came up big to provide 37 total points in the continued absence of star big Joel Embiid, who will once again be unavailable for Game 2.
As for the Heat, they hardly had anyone going offensively apart from big man Kelly Olynyk, who had 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting off the bench. Top scorer and floor general Goran Dragic had just 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting, while swingman Josh Richardson had only four points on 1-of-7 shooting. Meanwhile, Big man Hassan Whiteside played a mere 12 minutes and finished with two points and six rebounds.
Three keys to the game
Sixers’ hot shooting – Redick and Belinelli came into the game shooting incredibly well, and they carried over that red-hot shooting against the Heat. But they weren’t the only ones who were feeling it from beyond the arc. The Sixers as a team shot a scintillating 64 percent (18-of-28) on 3-pointers, which is unbelievable. It’s going to be hard to shoot that well for a second-straight game, but if they can even come close to that level, the Sixers should be in great shape to go up 2-0.
Heat offensive spark – Miami were always going to struggle to keep up given how the Sixers were shooting the ball from deep. Regardless, the awful offensive performance from their stars, notably Dragic and Richardson, is unacceptable. As a team with clear offensive limitations, they can’t afford a repeat performance if they stand any chance of even up this series. Dragic, in particular, will need to snap out of his recent funk and provide the spark the Heat desperately need.
Main Miami big man – Coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to sit Whiteside for Olynyk was understandable given the how ineffectual the Heat big man was when he was on the floor. But even if he improves, can he do so enough to justify playing big minutes in this series? With the Heat’s need for better offense – which also means better spacing – Olynyk might be the better option moving forward.
Matchup to watch
Kelly Olynyk vs Ersan Ilyasova – Who would’ve expected the two stretch big men to be the standout offensive performers on their respective teams? Chances are one of those two players falls back down to earth in Game 2, but that could end up being a significant factor which decides how the game plays out.
Heat projected starting lineup
PG – Goran Dragic | SG – Tyler Johnson | SF – Josh Richardson | PF – James Johnson | C – Hassan Whiteside
76ers projected starting lineup
PG – Ben Simmons | SG – JJ Redick | SF – Robert Covington | PF – Dario Saric | C – Amir Johnson
Just about every Heat player save for Olynyk was a fantasy bust in Game 1. It’s hard to imagine much change to that in Game 2. Olynyk should continue to see more significant minutes going forward in the series as the Heat look to maximize their offensive potential.
As for the Sixers, Simmons continued where he left off in the regular season with a near-triple-double, while Redick and Belinelli also remained hot. While Saric and Ilyasova should cool off a bit from their terrific shooting performances, it’s easy to envision Simmons, Redick, and Belinelli from going off for another big game.
It’s hard to see the Heat playing as poorly as they did in Game 1. But even if they do play better, the Sixers have been on a completely different level for the better part of 17 games and could still run away with it at home. Look for them to do just that as they cover the 6.5-point spread for a second-straight game.
The Sixers take a commanding 2-0 series lead with a 115-105 Game 2 win.
This game will be broadcast on TNT. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.