After a great opening night, the Heat are beginning four games in five nights. Their first opponent will be the Philadelphia 76ers on the road. I caught up with SB Nation site Liberty Ballers and chatted with Jake Pavorsky (@JakePavorsky) about the team and the game. Check out what he had to say.
1. Last year was forgettable for the 76ers, what's your outlook and expectation for the team this season?
If we're being perfectly honest, this year is going to be just as forgettable. The outlook for this season is bleak, and not only is the roster pretty devoid of talent, but not a ton of depth at point guard or in the front court. The Vegas over/under for wins this season is 15.5, and while I went over (have them at 20-62), you could make an extremely good case for the under. Frankly, this season isn't really about wins (or even losses), but watching the young talent this team has take steps forward. I think that Carter-Williams will continue to mold his game into that of an NBA point guard, Noel will continue to improve offensively as he makes his transition to the four, and Hollis Thompson proves he can one day be a rotational player on a good NBA team.
2. Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel have the potential to be a powerful combination in the NBA when healthy. What do you think their ceiling is as a duo?
It's ambitious, but they have the chance to be on par with that of Sampson and Olajuwon. They're incredible when it comes to blocking shots and pulling down rebounds, and are very complimentary defenders. Noel has the speed to defend out to the perimeter, and his active hands will result in a lot of steals, which subsequently turn into fast break opportunities.
Embiid is considerably stronger than Nerlens, so he'll be able to bang down low against centers with little trouble. Joel's also got a terrific post game offensively, and it's only fitting he's done a little learning under "The Dream". If Noel can learn to become a slasher from the high post, these two have the ability to dome some damage.
3. Last year, Michael Carter-Williams came on the scene early against the Heat, posting a triple double. Do you think he has what it takes to eventually lead this team to where you want them to go?
To me yes, but for most the jury is still out. He's tough around the rim, uses his size to give opposing guards fits on defense. He needs to continue to work on improving his arsenal offensively (a pull up jumper would be nice), and cut down on his turnovers if he wants to be the guy to lead this team in the future. With that said, the way the team is currently constructed isn't really the worse thing for him. It's a stress free environment where he can learn and build his game while getting the minutes of a starter. Not to mention, he was playing with guys of the likes of myself last season, and played real well despite nursing a torn labrum for the last 3+ months of the season. I think he has what it takes.
4. In order to beat the Heat, how the Sixers game-plan to exploit the Heat's weaknesses?
Philly's going to really need to lock down the perimeter on defense. Miami loves to stretch the floor, and doesn't really have strong low post players. The Heat are gonna shoot a lot from deep, and Philadelphia is gonna need to make sure they step out to defend. And of course, there's that Chris Bosh fella they're going to want to keep out of the paint.
5. Give us your prediction for the game!
Bosh is too much for Philadelphia to handle, and Miami wins 105-95.