76ers Looking to Survive Without Embiid
The big question surrounding Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat is how the 76ers can play with Joel Embiid.
The star center is expected to miss at least the first two games, so it makes the opener of the series all the more important.
NBA betting odds have the Heat as -7½ favorites, so they’re expected to take Game 1 with the advantage of home court.
Let’s check the latest NBA picks, stats, injury reports and NBA odds for 76ers vs Heat. We’ve plenty of NBA playoffs odds for you to consider.
Too Hard for Harden?
It’s fair to call James Harden an enigmatic player. He is an elite scorer but we have questioned his ability to put a team on his back.
Since joining the Philadelphia 76ers after a failed “superteam” bid with the Brooklyn Nets, Harden has yet to establish the dominance he once had.
The 76ers play a different brand of offense compared to what he’s used to, but with Embiid out of the lineup, they need Harden to shine.
Harden has players around him who can score, including Tobias Harris, but without the presence of Embiid, we expect Harden to put up a lot of shots.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers is all too aware of the adjustment they need to make and suggests the Miami Heat don’t care which lineup takes to the floor.
“Well, the biggest adjustment is we don’t have Joel,” Rivers told ESPN. “There’s no good thing to it. But we did have one game without Joel against them and honestly, we won the game, but I thought it was more than they looked at we didn’t have Joel, I think James was out, so I think mentally that probably played a purpose in that game. That’s not going to happen now. They don’t care who we have on the floor.”
It’s no surprise to see the 76ers as significant underdogs. They’re playing without their best player and they’re away from home, so the odds aren’t stacked in their favor. However, the opening game of a playoff series can produce an upset.
The sportsbook is respecting the 76ers, so it could pay to watch for any late market moves.
Miami to Apply Heat
Boasting one of the best defenses in the NBA, the Miami Heat are tough to score against and that’s where they have the advantage on Monday.
Ranking inside the top four in points allowed, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and rebounding, the Heat are formidable at that end of the floor, which could force the 76ers into making bad offensive decisions.
Miami is also the best three3-point shooting team in the NBA, so it’s a dual-threat outfit with the potential to win the NBA championship.
The Heat showed their worth in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks and it was a solid team effort. Despite Jimmy Butler picking up an injury, the likes of Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo and the resurgent Victor Oladipo got them over the line.
We’re not sure if Butler is playing, but the strength of the Heat is their depth. They are also 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six meetings in Miami against the 76ers, so most of the positives in this matchup point toward the home side.
Injury updates will have an impact on the NBA lines, but expect the Heat to remain as firm favorites.
76ers vs Heat Head-to-Head
It was a 2-2 split during the regular season. The Heat took the opening game on the road before the 76ers evened up the series with a road win.
They have traded wins throughout the season and, based on that theory, it’s the Heat’s time to win.
76ers vs Heat Game Information
- Game: 76ers (51-31) vs Heat (29-12)
- Location: FTX Arena, Miami
- Day/Time: Monday, May 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
- 76ers vs Heat Live stream: NBA Game Pass
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76ers vs Heat Betting Lines
76ers vs Heat Prediction
We expect the Miami Heat to win the game outright at -345, but there is some trepidation with the -7½ line.
The Heat have injury concerns of their own, so it’s not all about the exclusion of Embiid. However, we worry about how the 76ers will match up against the deadly 3-point shooting of the Heat.
They Sixers also don’t have Embiid to lock down the paint area, so we expect to see plenty of isolation plays with Harden and we don’t think that’s a recipe for success in the Eastern Conference.
We’re taking the Heat to cover the spread and we expect a low-scoring contest, so the under 208½ is worth adding to NBA betting.