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Sixers vs. Heat: start time, radio schedule and game preview

Friday night, the Sixers conclude their 2016-17 preseason slate against the Miami Heat.

NBA: Preseason-Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (1-5) will finish their 2016-17 preseason in South Beach Friday, Oct. 21. Spectacles that include Joel Embiid dominating the Miami Heat (4-3) frontcourt or Dario Saric spacing the floor at the 4 will have to be predominately heard via radio.

While the visuals will be absent tonight for the majority, unless you’re one of the select few with NBA League Pass and a VPN (Virtual Private Network)*, getting a glimpse at Embiid’s progressions this preseason has been riveting and rewarding. Riding the pine for two full seasons hasn’t seriously hindered Embiid. His mobility on offense has befuddled opposing centers, captivated the masses and could be elite this season.

Whether he’s combatted Marcin Gortat or Andre Drummond, two high-tier Eastern Conference starting centers, Embiid’s been able to relatively take any look he’s desired due to his spryness and strength.

Averaging 10.3 PPG through six games, he’s also sought to optimize his offensive approach, leaking out on the perimeter during pick-and-rolls and taking long-range jump shots. While he has a penchant to operate on the low and high blocks on offense, Embiid (16.7 percent on threes) could be a lethal pick-and-pop candidate with additional reps.

Facing a shot-blocking savant in Hassan Whiteside tonight, Brett Brown could utilize Embiid in that regard and force the Heat center away from the rim.

Whiteside could possibly have to deal with another adept low post scorer tonight in Jahlil Okafor. The absent second-year center has missed the entirety of the preseason thus far, allowing Embiid to flourish in his previously occupied starting center role, but will make his 2016-17 debut tonight.

With recent discussion centered around Okafor’s ability to cohesively flank Embiid in the frontcourt, assessing that theme in Friday’s meaningless game, rather than the opener Wednesday, would be optimal.

Embiid has sporadically been tasked with guarding players on the perimeter, due to P&R switches, and his aptitude in that department could save Okafor from leaving the paint. It all comes back to Embiid in this frontcourt, as expected. Similarly to Embiid’s limitations throughout the preseason, Brown could cap Okafor’s minutes around six to eight minutes.

Okafor’s presence immediately bolsters a fleeting offense in Philadelphia that’s averaged 82.0 PPG over the last three games. On the topic of mired in a slump, Saric has hit a perpetually early rookie wall. Progressively adjusting to NBA pace of play and the arc, the Croatian forward is shooting just 5-of-22 from the floor and 0-of-7 from deep over his last three games.

Saric has been operating around the perimeter and opting for long jumpers, but it’s a process to decide what looks to go for in certain situations. Averaging 8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and shooting 40 percent from the floor, Saric has been a relatively competent starting option for Brown. He’ll share frontcourt duties with Embiid once again tonight.

Where the volatility exists is in the backcourt, which has prompted general manager Bryan Colangelo to reportedly seek reinforcements. Jerryd Bayless in street clothes due to a wrist injury has highlighted the Sixers’ underwhelming current options at point guard.

Sergio Rodriguez is averaging just 5.1 PPG in 21.5 MPG through six games and shooting an abysmal 27.0 percent from the floor. Coupled with his matador-like defense, at times, guarding slashing guards, it’s an alarming start for the Spaniard.

T.J. McConnell, who was relegated to the second unit last Saturday against Detroit, is a definite wildcard in the backcourt. The diminutive point guard has arguably outplayed Rodriguez, averaging 7.5 PPG and 3.8 APG while shooting a robust 50.0 percent from the floor. Rodriguez will get the nod tonight, but both guards’ performances could have an impact in who Brett Brown denotes as the starting point guard to open the season.

It’s just one of the storylines in play for the Sixers, who could be audibly pleasing in their preseason finale.

Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: Sixers.com Audio Stream

*Viewers not in the Philadelphia market don’t need a VPN due to game not being being blacked out.