Surging Miami Heat seek fourth-straight win against Philadelphia 76ers Friday

Nov 21, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) drives past Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) to the basket during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) drives past Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) to the basket during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Game preview for the Miami Heat vs the Philadelphia 76ers.

Heat (35-26) at 76ers (8-53)
Where: Philadelphia
When: Friday, March 4, 2016, 7 PM ET
TV/Radio: FS-SUN/790 AM

With its back court coming off a 52-point performance, Hassan Whiteside thriving off the bench and the addition of Joe Johnson invigorating the team’s perimeter shooting, the Miami Heat are starting to pull away from the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Heat beat the Phoenix Suns Thursday, and will complete the second game of a back-to-back when they travel to take on the lowly Philadelphia 76ers Friday. Against Phoenix Thursday, Miami was coming off an impressive win against the Chicago Bulls (always a tough game for the Heat) and didn’t suffer a potential let down to the Suns.

They took care of business, and they need to do the same against the 76ers Friday night.

Injury report: The Heat will be without Chris Bosh and Tyler Johnson once again. For the 76ers, rookie center Jahlil Okafor (shin) is day-to-day.

Matchup to watch: Hassan Whiteside vs Jahlil Okafor (maybe)

A matchup of titans in the paint.

Okay, maybe not quite titans. But raw, extremely talented big men who are capable of putting up monster scoring numbers.

Whiteside has been playing very well since the All-Star break, showing a nice shooting touch and hitting his free throws. Of course, he’s still a shot blocking machine as well. And in coming off the bench, he’s become the spark plug of the team.

Meanwhile, Okafor has played well with 76ers point guard Ish Smith. He’s just a few games removed from posting 31 points. However, Okafor has missed the last two games and is listed as day-to-day with a shin injury. If he plays. this is certainly the matchup to watch.

X-Factor: Fatigue

The Heat have no excuse to lose this game, other than the fact that its the second game of a back-to-back (and even then, it’s still the 76ers). Miami has certainly been surging despite having just 11 active players, but the problem with that is they don’t have a deep bench when the core group is facing fatigue. This could prove problematic, if not now, then in the future.

Key Stats

Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 21st, 102.1 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 6th, 100.2 points allowed per 100 possessions

Philadelphia 76ers offensive efficiency: 30th, 95.6 points per 100 possessions
Philadelphia 76ers defensive efficiency: 25th, 106.2 points allowed per 100 possessions