Less than two weeks ago, the Sixers were this close to pulling out a game against the Heat:
JJ Redick had a chance to win it but he missed the wide open shot pic.twitter.com/ydsAulmdyf— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 28, 2018
This game marks the fourth and final matchup between the Sixers and the Heat, with the previous three all being decided by six points or fewer.
The Heat are currently tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Sixers ahead hanging onto the 6th seed by the hair on their chinny-chin-chin — a single win.
Winning games on the road against playoff teams would be a good litmus test if the Sixers want to make noise in the playoffs. Their record away from the Wells Fargo Center stands at an ugly 15-18.
Another important consideration for the Sixers prospects of making a run rests on the shoulders of their 3-and-D wing, Robert Covington. RoCo experienced an awakening in the Sixers last game vs. the Hornets — draining 5 three-pointers on his way to 22 points, the most he’s scored in almost four months.
Ben Simmons, who is putting together one of the best rookie campaigns in NBA history, also continued to show his dominance, especially when driving to the rim. He missed just one of his nine shots, while tacking on 13 assists and 8 rebounds. He continues to play great defense for a rookie point guard.
Here are both teams’ players ranked over the last 10 games by Jacob Goldstein’s Player-Impact Plus Minus — a model that uses a box-score prior, luck-adjusted on-off data, and luck-adjusted net rating.
Over the last 10 games, Ben Simmons has been the backbone of the Sixers top offensive units — his play has is crescendoing, by the numbers and to the eye.
Dwayne Wade hit Father Time with a counterpunch to win the last game against the Sixers, tallying 27 points and the game-winning basket. Wade eclipsed 20 points two more times since, against the Lakers and Wizards.
JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli having to guard almost any member of the Heat backcourt is a scary proposition — as Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Wade feast on slow-twitch defenders.
Last but not least, the Joel Embiid vs. Hassan Whiteside matchup — a budding rivalry. I think this matchup will come down to good-ole’-fashioned fouls. In just three matchups, Embiid and Whiteside have both accrued 5 fouls in a game, twice happening to Embiid. As they say, “To the victor goes the spoils.” I believe whoever manages to draw the early fouls will win this matchup and perhaps the game.
Game Time: 7:30 pm EST
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 the Fanatic
Vegas: Sixers -1.0
The Bad Guys: Hot Hop Hoops