❖ Tip-off: 7:30 ❖ Location: Miami, FL ❖ TV: NBCSP ❖ Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
With playoff implications in the balance, the Philadelphia 76ers (35-28) will continue their road trip tonight when they take on the Miami Heat (34-31) in their final meeting of the season. The Sixers have a chance to distance themselves from the Heat in the playoff race in this key game.
The last two times these teams squared off were play-off like atmospheres, and were tight down to the wire. The last match-up in Miami went back-and-forth down the stretch, with Dwyane Wade ultimately hitting a game-winning three in the final 10 seconds. The season series is currently 2-1 in favor of the Sixers.
Wade's recent success versus Philly
The last two meetings between these teams featured Dwyane Wade in his return to Miami after his brief stint in Cleveland. In both both games, Wade was called upon to take the big shot as the clock was winding down in the fourth.
In the first of these meetings, Wade took a step-back three-pointer as time expired that went in and out which would have tied the game. In the last meeting, Wade hit a step-back mid-range over Ben Simmons that put them ahead and ultimately gave them a win.
Wade went for 27 points and three steals and shot 62.5 percent from the floor in that game. He has shown this season that regardless of what team he is on, he is still a threat despite being 36-years-old.
If the situation arises, there is a good chance Erik Spoelstra will call his veteran leader's number to take a shot with the game on the line. Along with Whiteside, the Sixers will have to limit Wade's production off the bench if they hope to get the win on the road tonight.
Embiid and Whiteside Match-Up
Ever since Joel Embiid came onto the scene, he and Hassan Whiteside have formed a budding rivalry. From calling each other out on social media to jawing mid-game, it's clear these two big men get under each other's skin.
Whenever they play, they both seem to rise to the occasion, and tonight should be no different.
Look for Embiid to try to get Whiteside into foul trouble early, something that seems to please Jo-Jo thoroughly.
This should feature a battle of the boards, with Whiteside (11.9) and Embiid (11.1) ranking sixth and seventh in the NBA in rebounds per game respectively.
Regardless of the outcome, Embiid and Whiteside should certainly put on a show.
A Battle for Playoff Seeding
As the regular season winds down, these are both teams eyeing high playoff spots. The Sixers currently hold the sixth seed, and the Heat the seventh.
Currently, the Sixers are two games up on the Heat, and a win tonight would grow that lead to three games. A win would also pull them to a half-game away from the four seed, which is currently shared by the Wizards and Pacers, neither of which are in action tonight.
Being that this is the final match-up between these two teams, it will be important for the Sixers to make the most of this opportunity and give them some breathing room so they don't have to worry about a hungry team in Miami breathing down their necks as they enter the home stretch.
|Matchup Preview | March 8, 2018|
(35-28, 15-18 Away)
(34-31, 16-18 Home)