Well, that was unexpected. The third-seeded Philadelphia 76ers entered Monday’s game against the sixth-seeded Miami Heat on a 17-game winning streak dating back to March 13. However, the Heat rode a vintage performance from future of Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade to even their first-round series at one win apiece.
How will the 76ers respond as the series shifts to South Beach today? Game 3 should be a fun battle as both squads aim to take a series lead (7 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT).
The Sixers didn’t play terribly in Game 2 aside from their shooting. However, they are a team quite reliant on shooting well from downtown, so that doomed them. The squad’s best player, Joel Embiid, has a chance of returning for Game 3 after nearly a month of being out with a facial injury.
The Heat played an outstanding contest in Game 2, executing pretty well on defense and getting solid scoring contributions from several different sources.
Let’s preview what might happen in Game 3, then make our Sixers vs Miami Heat predictions for which team covers the spread with the USA internet sportsbooks. We will also pick whether the teams hit the over or under on the total points scored.
Will the 76ers Knock Down Open Threes?
People often call the NBA a make-or-miss league, and the Sixers’ performance on Monday was a prime example. Philly made just seven out of 36 three-pointers (19.4 percent) and it is not like the team had its poor shooters taking those shots — Dario Saric, Robert Covington, J.J. Redick, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova hoisted all 36 of the looks.
If you are a Sixers fan, you have to be hoping for better luck in Game 3. Philly made just 6-of-25 (24 percent) of its open or wide open shots. The team’s average game on those type of shots during the regular season was a 9.4-of-25 performance. Therefore, if the Sixers had even average shooting luck on Monday, they would have scored an additional 10.2 points.
Considering the final margin was 10 points in favor of Miami, the poor shooting was a really big deal. And making shots helps on defense, too — opponents need to take the ball out of bounds on makes, which slows down their transition from defense to offense.
Does Dwyane Wade Have More Star Basketball in Him?
If you watched the 36-year-old Wade’s highlights from Game 2, you would have sworn it was the year 2010. The Heat legend’s confidence was ridiculous in the contest. He was taking all sorts of tough shots over defenders and hitting only net on most of them. In all, he scored 28 points in only 26 minutes on 11-of-16 shooting.
Game 2 Wade is certainly not the Wade we have seen all year. His averages during the regular season were 11.4 points per game and a 43.8 percent mark from the field, both career lows.
Aging superstars sometimes have a knack for going off in random games, so it’s not too surprising that Wade pulled this off. The difficulty for guys his age is maintaining that performance for consecutive games. Can he pull it off? It’s not likely, but even a solid game off the bench from Wade would help Miami a lot.
Will Joel Embiid Play?
For now, we shouldn’t expect Embiid to play. The young star center is listed as doubtful as he recovers from his orbital fracture in his face. However, he did post on Instagram after the Game 2 loss that he was “sick and tired of being babied.”
A facial injury isn’t one that has a high risk of re-injury, so it does seem like Embiid should be able to return if he feels up to it (which seems to be the case). I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Embiid proves himself ready before Game 3 and convinces the coaching staff to play him in this very important game.
If Embiid returns, the Sixers’ chances of winning go up by a huge amount. Heat center Hassan Whiteside was already struggling against Philadelphia’s bigs, but Embiid is an entirely different beast. The Heat would also have a much more difficult time finishing at the rim with the Sixer superstar looming.
Our Preview’s Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Game 3 Betting Picks & Predictions
I feel like a lot of things had to go Miami’s way for the Heat to win Game 2. The Sixers will come out with a bunch of energy on the road. The potential return of Joel Embiid also raises the ceiling for the Sixers’ performance in Game 3. So here are the Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat predictions & picks for this preview:
- Philadelphia was my pick to win this series in five games, and I am sticking with that. Naturally, this preview predicts the Sixers to win. I would suggest betting on the 76ers -1.5pts @ odds of -110 with Bovada or BetOnline. It is -2pts with most others.
- The Sixers shooting so poorly was the really big story in Game 2 but the squads still combined for 216 total points scored. Hitting that number shouldn’t be too hard in Game 3. Bet the over 216.5 @ -110 with BetOnline. It is 217pts with the other firms.