A long-running axiom in NBA circles is that any road team that has the night before a game free in Miami is going to come out flat. South Beach simply has too many...distractions for young men with the world as their oyster to focus on the task at hand. Well, how about when that night before also happens to be when the biggest sporting event in American sports (the world?) is going on in the city?
Such is the challenge for the Sixers, who were down in Miami while Super Bowl LIV was taking place Sunday. First off, congratulations to Andy Reid on getting his first Super Bowl victory. I’m glad the Eagles have a Super Bowl under their belts already so I can express that sentiment in a sincere fashion rather than feeling tremendously bitter. Ben Simmons was at the game with Kendall Jenner, while Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris also attended, with the Sixers trio meeting with Michael Rubin and Meek Mill.
So suffice it to say, the Sixers have a challenge ahead of them to defeat the Heat, as Miami has a Philadelphia-esque 21-3 record at home this season. Add in the fact that Brett Brown’s club has looked dreadful across the past two games in Atlanta and Boston, and it would be a complete 180-degree turn to see the Sixers come away with a victory tonight.
However, that’s not to say that the Sixers don’t have it in them somewhere to beat Miami. In the first meeting between the teams back in November, Philadelphia booed Jimmy Butler vociferously, and the Sixers held him to just 11 points in a 113-86 victory that represented one of their most dominating efforts of the season. Of course, the Heat got their revenge in winning both games in December, a 108-104 final in Philadelphia, and a 117-116 overtime contest in Miami. A win tonight would ensure the Heat don’t win the season series, which could be a factor in playoff tiebreaker scenarios (you know, if the Sixers ever intend to win road games again and aren’t just content with the 6-seed).
In a game featuring four All-Stars, the Sixers will need their two to control the action, which means Ben Simmons continuing his excellent play and Joel Embiid getting out of whatever funk he has been in the last couple games, particularly his 1-of-11 night in Boston. I thought that the primetime Celtics game was exactly the sort of stage where the Sixers would step up and play to their potential, but events transpired in almost exactly the opposite direction. Maybe Miami, against former teammate Jimmy Butler, will represent that moment instead.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat
When: 7:30 pm ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Josh Richardson (out - hamstring)
Miami: Justise Winslow (out - back)