The Philadelphia 76ers return to play Wednesday evening after a two-day hiatus to take on the Miami Heat in a bout between two Eastern Conference contenders who are separated by just a half game in the standings. The Sixers are coming off of a dreadful 20-point loss on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets; they are, however, 8-2 in their last 10 games and their home record is still perfect (14-0). The Heat are 7-3 in their last 10 games but looked a bit out of sync over the last week, taking losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers and a needing overtime to steal wins from the Luka-less Dallas Mavericks and the last-place Atlanta Hawks.
Jimmy Butler is having a strong start to his first season in South Beach. While his shooting splits have been underwhelming (43.2%/28.0%/82.9%), he’s carrying a heavy load averaging 21.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 6.8 assists, the assists per game easily marking a career high. He’s been productive on the defensive end as well both on and off ball, and he’s nabbing over 2 steals per game. Put it all together and the Heat are a robust 16.7 points per 100 possessions better with Butler on court than off. The last time these two teams faced off, the Sixers held Butler to just 11 points on 4-13 shooting en route to their 113-86 victory.
While Butler was held in check by his former team in that game, the same can not be said about Josh Richardson, who went off on his old club. Richardson scored 32 on the Heat in that game, catching fire and going 6-7 from 3PT. Richardson wasn’t the only proficient scorer for Philly either. The team’s eFG% for the game 64.5%, one of their best performances all season.
But that was then and this is now. With a game against each other under their belt, the Sixers and the Heat have a bit more insight as to how they’ll attack each other. If both teams are locked in, this could be an exciting matchup and a preview for a potential playoff series down the line.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic