STP Staff Predictions: Second Round Series Between Sixers, Heat

My project (1)
The Philadelphia 76ers are taking on the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs. The series begins tonight at 7:30 down in Miami. The Sixers will begin the series at a major disadvantage as they will be without star big man Joel Embiid for at least the first two games with an orbital fracture and concussion. However, he can potentially return as early as Game 3 or 4. Find out if our contributors think the team will be able to survive any time without Embiid and move on past the Heat:

Matt Gregan, Staff Writer – Sixers:

This series was already going to be very tough for the Sixers, but things took a turn for the worse when it was announced Embiid was set to miss at least the first two games of the series with an orbital fracture and concussion. The Sixers will be hard pressed to stay alive in the series until Embiid's potential return in Games 3 or 4. Both Harden and Maxey are capable at times of carrying the Sixers' offense, and they will have to early on in this series. Embiid will return mid-series, but he will likely be clearly hampered by injuries. While the combination of his return and a special game or two from the team's supporting cast can make this a series, I believe the Heat will eventually win out because of their defense and depth throughout their roster. The Heat will take this in six games.

Michael Lipinski, Contributor:

I agree with Charles Barkley, the Sixers' inconsistencies are going to doom them in the upcoming series against the Heat. The Sixers —as we saw in the opening round against Toronto — play an inconsistent brand of basketball. They should have swept the Raptors but laid two eggs, that will not fly against Miami. Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro will be too much for the Sixers, especially without Joel Embiid for at least two games.. The Sixers will steal one in Miami thanks to a classic performance form James Harden. They’ll probably steal one in Philly as well when Embiid returns but the Heat will end up being too much. Final prediction: Heat in 6

Bill Gorman, Contributor:

The Sixers and Heat will renew acquaintances starting tonight in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the injury to Joel Embiid. A broken orbital bone and concussion will have him sidelined for at least the first two games of the series. Miami has their own injury issues, with Kyle Lowry (hamstring) scheduled to miss Game 1 and Jimmy Butler nursing a sore knee that kept him from Miami’s clincher against Atlanta.

Normally, to predict a series like this, one would refer back to the teams’ regular season meetings. But in this case, there is little to be taken from them, because Embiid missed two meetings (and will miss at least two in this series), James Harden hasn’t faced Miami in a Sixers uniform, and Lowry and Butler each missed one of the Heat’s two wins against Philadelphia this year.

Philadelphia has the talent advantage, at least from 1-4 in their lineups. Miami will obviously key on Harden to prevent his drives and kick-outs to open shooters, so Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris will be called upon to shoulder more of the load in this series. If the 76ers can get out of Miami with a split of the first two games, it will go a long way to paving the road to victory.

Sixers in six games.

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