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Philadelphia 76ers aren’t who you think they are and that could be dangerous for Miami Heat

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In reality the streaking Sixers owe their recent success to NBA role player veterans.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat will face a different Philadelphia 76ers team than the one Miami defeated twice in their last two games.

Since Joel Embiid’s injury, the 76ers won eight straight games with the talents of NBA veterans such as Marco Belinelli and JJ Redick, ranked by the number of field goal attempts each player had in the last 8 games.

76ers leading scorers in last 8 games

JJ Redick 33 205 157 107 25.6 29
Marco Belinelli 32 225 140 103 24.1 92
Ersan Ilyasova 30 220 118 92 21.6 50
Ben Simmons 21 233 125 90 22.6 84
Robert Covington 27 240 88 83 16.6 97
Markelle Fultz 19 149 63 66 22.5 39
Richaun Holmes 24 164 76 49 14.5 31
Dario Saric 24 106 42 48 21.6 66
Amir Johnson 30 174 53 41 11.7 76
T.J. McConnell 26 121 40 38 14.3 19
Justin Anderson 24 55 38 28 26.7 12

When it came time to hoist a shot for the team, the 76ers gave the ball to a 33-year-old Redick, a 32-year-old Belinelli, or a 30-year-old Ersan Ilyasova to win the game for them.

Of the 5 players who logged over 200 minutes floor time, four of them are 27 years of age or over, i.e. way past the rookie stage.

Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz get the press coverage, but the overlooked veterans quietly get the job done as teams game plan against the flashy highlight players and ignore the less athletic players, who make key winning plays.

Fultz is a wild card as his return to health has allowed the 76ers to increase his minutes, leading to under-appreciated results like his triple-double against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The worst result for the Heat would come from falling into the trap the New York Knicks set, where the Heat chased decoy actions in the paint, while leaving the real shooters open at the 3-point line.

The 76ers might pull the same tactic the Heat used with Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic last season, by collapsing coverage on drives to the rim, and then spraying passes to the waiting Belinellis and Redicks at the 3-point line.

A Reminder of the 76ers ability to score from anywhere on the court.

On Feb. 14 the Heat let a 24-point evaporate as the 76ers made Miami’s defense look dazzled and confused with multiple efforts on the boards and open shots from outside the arc, in the second half of the game.