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NBA PLAYOFFS SECOND ROUND GAME 4 PREVIEW: Heat seek bounce back win Sunday against Sixers

Sunday will be another test for both teams — can Miami prevail?

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat look to bounce back against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4 of the second-round series Sunday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn.

Miami, who leads 2-1 in the series, had an uninspiring Game 3, losing 99-79, on the road Friday. The dull offensive showing came courtesy of Miami shooting 35.1 percent from the floor — its worst mark this postseason — including 7-of-30 (23.3 percent) from 3-point range, it’s second-worst 3-point output these playoffs.

The Heat sported a dismal 45.1 true-shooting percentage Friday, their worst in the playoffs since Game 3 of the 2015-16 first-round series between the Heat and Charlotte Hornets, where they scored just 80 points on 34.2/31.8/63.3 shooting splits (43.4 TS%).

Miami tallied just 75.0 halfcourt points per 100 halfcourt plays (3rd percentile) in Friday’s 20-point loss, its fourth-worst mark of the season and worst in the playoffs, per Cleaning The Glass. It registered a higher-than-ideal 84.0 percent of its possessions (28th percentile) in the halfcourt; for perspective, albeit a smaller playoff sample, the league average rate that teams spend in the half court is 81.7 percent (thru 5/6). The league average in the five playoff seasons beforehand sat between 80-83 percent.

The Heat, while posting the league’s 7th-best non-garbage-time offense (115.3 ORTG), have been drastically less productive in the halfcourt — an oftentimes glaring struggle it possessed throughout the regular season. Here’s their playoff game-by-game scoring output in such situations, yielding 93.6 combined points per 100 plays (12th-best) in eight postseason games.

  • Game 1 vs. Hawks: 126.4 per 100 plays (98th percentile)
  • Game 2 vs. Hawks: 95.2 (56th percentile)
  • Game 3 vs. Hawks: 85.4 (15th percentile)
  • Game 4 vs. Hawks: 85.9 (18th percentile)
  • Game 5 vs. Hawks: 90.9 (34th percentile)
  • Game 1 vs. Sixers: 87.2 (20th percentile)
  • Game 2 vs. Sixers: 107.2 (81st percentile)
  • Game 3 vs. Sixers: 75.0 (3rd percentile)

Not great.

Momentarily moving away from the negatives, Jimmy Butler led the team with 33 points on 12-of-22 points with nine rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Everyone else? A mere 46 points on 15-of-55 shooting (27.3 percent) with six 3-pointers on 25 attempts. Butler was one of two Heat double-figure scorers — the other being Tyler Herro, who posted 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

Danny Green and Tyrese Maxey both led the Sixers with 21 points apiece; Green gave Heat fans PTSD flashbacks from the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals series, knocking down seven of his nine triples, tying his playoff career-high. Maxey, meanwhile, totaled all 21 of his points in the second-half, including 14 in the 4th quarter — as many points as the Heat had in the period alone.

In his highly anticipated return, Joel Embiid — playing with a fractured orbital bone plus a fractured finger on his right hand (shooting hand) — made a resounding impact. He tallied 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting with 11 rebounds, detracting multiple shots plus swaying Heat players away from taking shots they would otherwise hoist.

Here’s a Miami’s shot chart comparison with Embiid on the floor versus when he’s been off (throughout the series) per

Embiid On (20-54; 37.0 FG%) :

A lot of red.

A sea of red, plus a smidge of the rim??

Embiid off (60-131, 45.8 FG%):

Not as much red.

Less red. More green. Better results! (Albeit the larger sample.)

Again, in total: Not great.

In summary, perhaps the Heat’s most optimal formula for scoring with Embiid on the floor is in transition or before Philadelphia sets their defense, even though that feeds into Philly’s possession total and its get-up-and-go mentality it’s harnessed throughout this series.

Sunday will be another test for both teams — can Miami prevail?



  • Dewayne Dedmon (cold) - QUESTIONABLE*
  • Tyler Herro (left ankle sprain) - QUESTIONABLE*
  • Kyle Lowry (left hamstring strain) - QUESTIONABLE*
  • Caleb Martin (left ankle sprain) - QUESTIONABLE*
  • Max Strus (right hamstring strain) - QUESTIONABLE*
  • P.J. Tucker (right calf strain) - QUESTIONABLE*
  • Gabe Vincent (right knee irritation) - QUESTIONABLE*


  • Joel Embiid (facial fracture, right thumb sprain) - QUESTIONABLE**
  • Isaiah Joe (right ankle sprain) - QUESTIONABLE

* - My guess is they’re active, barring a significant-enough setback. If we’ve learned anything about labeling a Heat player with the ever-so-common “Questionable” tag during these playoffs: They’re playing and ready for whenever Spo calls their number. They would’ve likely been ruled out the day before if they weren’t.

** - My guess is that Embiid’s playing as well (with the mask, obviously), barring anything significant.

Projected Starters

Celtics Position Heat
Celtics Position Heat
Marcus Smart PG Gabe Vincent
Jaylen Brown SG Max Strus
Jayson Tatum SF Jimmy Butler
Al Horford PF PJ Tucker
Robert Williams III C Bam Adebayo


  • Sixers -1.5 (-110)
  • Total: 207.5
  • Moneyline: Sixers -130, Heat +115


  • Jimmy Butler points + assists: 30 or more (+125)
  • Bam Adebayo double-double: Yes (+180)
  • Max Strus scoring the team’s first points: Yes (+650)
  • Tyler Herro 3-pointers made: 3 or more (+150)
  • Heat score total: More than 105.5 points (+130)
  • Heat margin-of-victory: Five or more points (+205)


TIME: 8:00 p.m. ET


RADIO: The Ticket 790AM & The HEAT Radio Network (Jason Jackson, Ruth Riley Hunter)

SPANISH RADIO: WAQI 710AM & The HEAT Spanish Radio Network (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala)

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