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Sixers vs. Heat: Game Preview

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Final game B.J.B. (Before Jimmy Butler)

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers will have a press conference Tuesday before Jimmy Butler makes his Sixers debut Wednesday night. First though, there’s one more game to play while we wait.

Fittingly, tonight’s contest will take place against a 5-7 Miami Heat team that was very much involved in the Butler sweepstakes. Miami reportedly offered Minnesota an initial package of Josh Richardson and a first-round pick, but pulled the offer once the season started and they saw how well Richardson was playing. Richardson is averaging career-highs of 20.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, while shooting 41.5% from three-point range on close to seven attempts per game. He is also one of the most disruptive and versatile wing defenders in the league. In the first year of a bargain 4-year, $42 million deal, it’s easy to see why Miami would be loathe to let him go.

After being played off the court in last spring’s Philadelphia-Miami first-round playoff series, Heat center Hassan Whiteside has revived his career this season. The big man sports averages of 14.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks, playing close to 30 minutes per night when the consensus entering the season was he would yield more time to talented youngster Bam Adebayo.

Whiteside is one of the many big men out there locked in a trash talk feud with Joel Embiid. Who could forget last preseason when Whiteside was fouling seemingly every time down the court, prompting Embiid to yell to the Miami bench to take him out, with the Heat obliging?

The exchange spilled over to social media, where Embiid tweeted the “your +/- was ass” line and called Hassan Whiteside a #softy. The eventual mic drop came on Instragram, however, with the “My location is EXTREMELY ASS” caption paired with a location of “Whiteside”. I don’t know about you folks, but these sorts of antics always seem to make my viewing experience of the on-court matchups that much spicier.

Still, the Sixers are once again essentially down two starters with nothing to show for it until Butler is available to play Wednesday. They almost overcame the situation Saturday night in Memphis, but let a lead slip away late and eventually faltered in overtime. This time, at least, they’ll have a little more available depth, having called up two-way players Shake Milton and Demetrius Jackson from the Blue Coats.

As usual though, the outcome will likely turn on whether Embiid and Ben Simmons can play like the best two players on the court. This game might be easy to dismiss as we await the start of the Jimmy Butler era, but it could still be meaningful come April when we’re looking at the standings.

Game Info:

When: 7:30 pm EST
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 the Fanatic
Twitter: @Liberty_Ballers