The Heat suffered a crucial overtime loss against Washington on Tuesday, going down 113-117. Dwyane Wade scored 22 points, making it three times in five games the veteran has scored 20 or more points.
Fortunately for Miami, Detroit keep on losing, meaning the Heat should be able to hold onto their playoff spot. Currently, they are in a tie for seventh in the east with Milwaukee, with a record of 34-31.
Philadelphia sit just one spot ahead, with their 35-28 having them in sixth place. On Tuesday, they had a comfortable 128-114 victory over the Hornets. Ben Simmons dominated in that game, contributing 16 points, eight rebounds and 13 assists to lead his side to victory.
Three keys to the game
Recent history - This will be the third time in just three weeks that these sides have matched up, and the previous two games both played out very similarly, albeit with different results. In the first, Philadelphia just crept over the line to a 104-102 victory. Two weeks later, the Heat got one back, winning 102-101. Signs point to another close one here.
Can Philly take care of the ball? - The 76ers are the worst side in the league at this aspect of the game. They give the ball up on 17% of their offensive possessions, more than 1.5% higher than any other side in the league. This invariably leads to a lot of points, with the 76ers' opposition scoring a league-high 19.7 points off turnovers per game.
Which Whiteside? - Hassan Whiteside is capable of being Miami’s most influential player, but he regularly seems disinterested for entire games. Against Washington on Tuesday, he had just eight points and six rebounds. The day prior, he put up 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting, grabbed 14 rebounds, and also contributed two assists, two steals and three blocks.
Three keys to the game
Ben Simmons vs Goran Dragic - The point guard battle may well have some added spark after Dragic was selected as a replacement All-Star ahead of the rookie Australian. Simmons’ comments after the snub suggested he wasn’t thrilled at being overlooked, and he will likely be keen to justify his complaints. His stats show that he has a leg to stand on in the argument - he has averaged 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.7 steals. Dragic has a very different game style though, and his stats don’t always reflect his influence. He averages 17.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists a night.
Miami Heat predicted starting lineup
PG - Goran Dragic | SG - Josh Richardson | SF - Luke Babbitt | PF - James Johnson | C - Hassan Whiteside
Philadelphia 76ers predicted starting lineup
PG - Ben Simmons | SG - JJ Redick | SF - Robert Covington | PF - Dario Saric | C - Joel Embiid
Wade was quite literally the difference when these two sides met just over a week ago. In just his sixth game since returning to Miami, the veteran came off the bench to score 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting. To cap things off, he hit a step back jumper from just inside the arc with under six seconds to go to give his Heat the lead, which they managed to hold on to. He is in good form of late, too, averaging 19.4 points per game over his last five on 51.4% shooting.
Philadelphia have been given slight favoritism in this game, despite the fact that it will be played in Miami. Their one point handicap is as small as it gets, and expect them to cover it. Despite the closeness of the past two matchups between the sides, the 76ers have both the talent and the form to get the job done in Miami.
Philadelphia will win this one, and it won’t be as close as the previous two encounters. Simmons had every right to be upset at being overlooked for Dragic for the All-Star game, and he will show why with a near triple-double in this game. With the Australian alongside Embiid, the 76ers will have the best two players on the floor in this game, and this will be enough to get over the line. They’ll pinch an important victory on the road, running out 106-98 winners.
The game will be broadcast locally on FS-Sun and NBCSP. Tip-off is at 7:30pm ET.