#1 — How long with Joel Embiid be out?
That we don’t know. We do know he will be out for Game 1 due to the concussion protocol that he will have to walk through. And that could be the thing that has him out — because I wouldn’t be surprised to have him put on a mask and play through this, even if it isn’t wise. However, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him out the whole series. Bone fractures in the face can’t be put at risk to be hit — it’s a dangerous situation.
I don’t know...let’s be clear with that, but I don’t expect to see Joel Embiid back in this series. Embiid was already playing through a torn ligament in his right (shooting) thumb, which he suffered in the first half of Philadelphia’s Game 3 win in Toronto. He’s a bit banged up. And as long as he is out, everything about this series is different.
#2 — Will Tyler Herro maximize his opportunity?
The Sixers play a type of defense that would help Tyler Herro get back on track. Herro averaged only 12.8 PPG in the first-round series against the Hawks (slightly less productive than Trae Young). Outside of Game 3, he was 1-17 from the three-point range. He needs to get going.
And the Sixers will play a bit of drop coverage in the PnR allowing Herro to get into the mid-range and excel in an area that most players avoid. Herro can get to the rim, but he will be most valuable and make the defense pay when they don’t go under the screen and don’t switch.
However, this circus still runs around Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. They want Tyler to be himself, but I don’t know that he will average 20 PPG this series as he did in the regular season. Herro can do himself a favor by getting to the line more. He shot a total of 10 FTs in Round 1. I don’t think he dominates this series, but I do think he will be better.
#3 — Is Victor Oladipo now in the rotation?
Who knows? But from the way the Miami Heat have treated Vic on social media, it would be shocking to see him get DNP-CD at this point. Vic and Butler can’t share the court too much together, but they can some. And Vic should be used as a change of pace guard in the second unit.
However, it is going to come at someone’s expense, likely Duncan Robinson. This could be a tough pill to swallow, because of the way that Philly plays drop coverage (or at least did with Embiid), this could give Duncan plenty of open looks with Bam in the DHO. On top of that, Gabe Vincent has had great games against the Sixers and will be needed. But I don’t see Vic just being shelved. So, yes, he is back in the rotation, even if it is a limited role.
#4 — Do the Heat have an answer for Tyrese Maxey?
Tyrese Maxey scored 13 of his 28 points in the 4th quarter in a win over the Heat on March 21 without Joel Embiid or James Harden. It was the beginning of the Heat’s most disappointing 4-game slide of the season.
But Maxey has been a bit of a problem for the Heat other than just the 4th quarter. In fact, he scored another 27 points in a December matchup and gave 17 points and 13 points in the other games. He’s been able to score and be a playmaker for the Sixers. And although Miami does have the bodies to handle Maxey, his motor will be a problem.
The Heat have a Tyrese Maxey problem pic.twitter.com/Et54JXVVqP— Christian Hernandez (@ICanBeYourHerro) April 29, 2022
And then there’s that...Maxey is working pretty much everyone except for Jimmy and Bam. The Heat will focus on James Harden, but Maxey will be a problem. Maybe that’s who they are inviting to beat them, not sure. But don’t be surprised to see him have some big games against the Heat. We can only hope the other Kentucky guard, Tyler Herro has more of an impact on this series than Tyrese.
Do the Heat have a Maxey problem? Yes, but it’s not the biggest priority on their list of things to pay attention to.
#5 — Will the Heat be allowed to play Heat basketball?
You remember what John Collins said right? Miami doesn’t have a polite way of playing basketball! I love that. The Heat are intense, aggressive, and can dictate games based on how they play on defense.
But sometimes, we get situations where officiating crews want to control the narrative. And the Sixers are an elite team at getting to the foul line and getting to the bonus early in quarters. Clearly, Joel Embiid is a great foul drawer — but without him, they still have James Harden. He’s been officiated differently, but is still capable of getting to the line when he wants to force the action.
If the Heat are in foul trouble and not allowed to be physical, it certainly changes how they can win. If they let these kennel dogs play, Miami will make basketball ugly for their opponent. I think we are looking at a home-court whistle in this series.
What questions are you thinking about heading into this series?