The Miami Heat (32-15) have been one of the surprise teams in the NBA this season in large part to meaningful contributions from undrafted players such as starters Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson and a deep bench with a combination of quality veterans and a promising young core.
In contrast the Philadelphia 76ers (31-19) have underwhelmed so far this season with “The Process” now fading in the distance with little to show for it. All that losing on purpose for years has only resulted in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid (never mind former #1 pick Markelle Fultz and #3 pick Jahlil Okafor), and two straight losses in the Eastern Conference Semifinals after strong showings in the regular season that only built up false hope. Yay.
They are third in the Atlantic Division behind the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics, are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, and have a pitiful 9-16 road record this season after losing to the lowly Atlanta Hawks 127-117 Thursday night. Al Horford hasn’t exactly been the perfect fit alongside Embiid in the frontcourt and there are questions over whether they should made a trade before the deadline in order to fix the team chemistry in order to make a deep run in the playoffs. But hey, Simmons has got two three-pointers this season so that’s progress there.
Sixers fans couldn't believe Jimmy Butler would want to willingly leave a supposed championship contender to join the “lowly” Heat last summer but the results have spoken for themselves. Butler has been the leader Miami needed after the retirement of Dwyane Wade and has fit seamlessly into the Heat culture of hard work and dedication to their craft without a thought of tanking for the hope of getting a high draft pick that could reverse their misfortunes.
Did I mention the Heat currently have a better record than the Sixers despite all those high draft picks and blockbuster acquisitions of All-Star Al Horford and Tobias Harris? Weird that their leader in last season’s playoffs wanted to jump ship but here we are and it’s quite apparent that Butler is happy in Miami with teammates that value his mindset and determination.
Still, the Heat will face a tough test at home against their East rival, who have won six of their last eight games entering Saturday night’s game against the Boston Celtics — though just one of those wins, against the Los Angeles Lakers, was against a team with a winning record. Prior to that they had lost six of eight games, including a 117-116 loss in overtime to the Heat on Dec. 28. The Sixers beat the Heat in their first match-up of the season on Nov. 23 behind Josh Richardson’s 32 points but lost the second game in the season series 108-104 on Dec. 18.
Can Miami win the season series 3-1 on Monday? That’s where you come in, loyal Hot Hot Hoops reader, with your unbridled passion for a team that values building a team from the bottom up without embarrassing themselves and the league.
Get your tickets now and show your support for the Heat in what should be a fun game against a team that sometimes values winning and sometimes doesn’t, as long as it will hopefully lead to championship rings galore in the future.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.