How the Miami Heat can take down the scorching 76ers

Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images
Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images /

Can the Miami Heat bring down the juggernaut Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs?

Yes, the Miami Heat are in trouble. They are matching up against the hottest team in the league in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs and have a tough task ahead of them. They honestly should’ve stayed in seventh for a matchup against a depleted Boston Celtics team, but the Heat Culture wouldn’t allow it. It’s not how they’re built. So while the Miami Heat are in for a rollercoaster ride in the first round, they aren’t looking at a quick exit either.

The Philadelphia 76ers are firing on all cylinders right now, but they’re not unbeatable. In other words, the Miami Heat upsetting this young team isn’t impossible.

The pros and cons list can weigh down with multiple bullet points with accurate precision, but instead of steering that way, here are just a couple of edgy advantages the Heat have over their fierce opponent.

First off, playoff experience. Point for Miami. Since Dwyane Wade’s arrival in Miami, the Heat have only missed the postseason four times since 2003. This will be the 12th trip to the playoffs for this resilient team.

In the regular season, Philadelphia and Miami tied the series record 2-2. They were all close, down to the wire, contested games:

  • March 8: Heat win, 108-99
  • Feb. 27: Heat win, 102-101
  • Feb. 14: 76ers win, 104-102
  • Feb. 2 76ers win, 103-97

The last two games, the Heat came out on top. The playoffs are a different story and the difference-maker could very well be, based off of playoff experience like I previously mentioned, Miami’s future Hall-of-Famer, Dwyane Wade.

Wade erupts in the postseason. Not counting his playoff year with Chicago, Wade with Miami averaged 33.8 points per game in his final season. Accompanied with 8.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game, Wade knows how to take it up a notch when the game is on the line. He understands the pressure and excels through it. In the last playoff run with Miami, he took both series to Game 7, first with the Charlotte Hornets and finally a tough loss against the Toronto Raptors.

His will to never give up always shines in the playoffs, especially with Miami.

Now, Philadelphia is not an easy team. The Sixers are peaking at the right time, but they are still young with no playoff experience. They haven’t made the playoffs since the 2011-12 season and none of the current roster was with that team.

Therefore, they have no playoff chemistry whatsoever.  Regular season? They’re monsters, riding a 16-game win streak. Playoffs? Very little experience. That doesn’t mean they are completely at a disadvantage. It just means they will have to fight adversity and brush off any pressure they might have. When you play against the Heat, there will absolutely be pressure on both ends of the floor.

The 76ers have a more talented roster overall, but the Heat’s veteran leadership and experience will come a long way. The other competitive edge all falls on matchups.

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  • James Johnson started last two games with Miami that eventually ended up in wins. Justise Winslow coming off the bench. James Johnson is a great test for Ben Simmons. He guarded LeBron James during the last Cavs-Heat meeting and was a great matchup defensively, limiting his shot selection and doubling down on the isolation plays.  He never let up.

    I think that can be a key advantage defensively and one Miami will desperately need to slow down Philly’s offensive run. Ben Simmons is talented overall and can destroy defenses in transition plays or in pick-and-rolls. He has an amazing basketball I.Q. mirroring that of LeBron James, but isn’t indestructible. He does have weaknesses and Johnson is the perfect option to pick them apart.

    Head coach Erik Spoelstra knows how to analyze rotations and matchups and knows how to counter.

    He can place Goran Dragic on Robert Covington. He might be a little undermatched there, but can definitely keep up with the pace defensively. Dragic’s speed will be beneficial in this matchup.  Last game between these two clubs, he did so well, he actually limited Covington to only three points on the whole night. Covington played 29 minutes. They eventually found the right formula to shut him down.

    Josh Richardson has also been very effective lately and needs that production to roll throughout the playoffs. He will have a tough matchup against Dario Saric. This is a disadvantage for Miami, since Dario is a great shooter and can work smoothly off screens. He is also taller and bulkier than Richardson, but that has never stopped the former Tennessee star.  His perimeter defense has shined and can be a nuisance for Saric if he sticks with it.

    While this matchup will surely be the most entertaining one of all, Hassan Whiteside vs. Joel Embiid, Miami has the immediate advantage when Game 1 tips off. Embiid hasn’t played since March 28, when he collided with teammate Markelle Fultz. He has been cleared of a concussion after surgery on March 31, but isn’t ready to return yet. He is slated to come back Game 2, but has recently gone record saying he still doesn’t feel like he is 100 percent.

    Whiteside is and has been extremely effective early on, especially in the rebounding department. He has combined for 51 rebounds in the past five games. Miami is going to rely on that early on in order to make a statement that this first round series won’t be an easy sweep for the 76ers.

    This can be an evenly matched series if the Heat plays their cards right.  Home court could be the difference-maker in the end if Miami doesn’t control the pace like it’s used to. It will be one of the most exciting series in the Eastern Conference that could become a first round upset.

    Next: Power ranking all 16 teams in the 2018 NBA Playoffs

    That is, of course, if Miami finds the solution to matchup up perfectly against this brawny 76ers team.