Miami Heat Playoffs Roundtable: Philly Or Toronto Preference In Round 2?

Toronto Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa (5) moves against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21)(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa (5) moves against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21)(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Miami Heat
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) passes the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /

Miami Heat Playoffs Roundtable: Philly/Toronto Round 2 Preference- Noah’s Take

The Miami Heat dominated the Hawks in the first round. Now, it is time to focus on the second round, where the Heat will play the winner of the 76ers-Raptors series.

Noah’s Take (@ndeckerbuckets) – Philadelphia 76ers

Both are tougher opponents than the Hawks, meaning it will be more of a challenge for the Heat. Hopefully, they have enough health to advance to the Conference Finals.

Between the 76ers and the Raptors, the team I would prefer to see the Heat play is the Philadelphia 76ers. There are four teams in the East that could probably win the NBA championship this year and two of them are the Heat and the 76ers.

However, this might be the right time to play Philly. Here is why.

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First, let’s begin with why playing the Raptors would be a struggle. If the Raptors win the series against the 76ers, they will become the first team in NBA history to come back from an 0-3 deficit.

Imagine how much confidence that type of feat would instill in a young Raptors team. Additionally, the Raptors lineup features a bunch of tall forwards who can defend well.

This causes size matchups for the Heat, who are a relatively small team. That makes it difficult for Erik Spoelstra to utilize weaker defenders like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.

Lastly, the Raptors are one of the best teams when it comes to forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. That is bad news for a Miami Heat team that often struggles to limit the turnover count.

The Philadelphia 76ers are definitely a better team than the Raptors in terms of talent. However, the 76ers are dealing with many problems right now.

The first is James Harden’s inefficiencies. When the 76ers traded for Harden before the trade deadline, it was expected that he would turn them into legitimate contenders and place them in the upper echelon of Eastern teams.

That was the case—for about a week.

So far in the first round, Harden has had only one game in which he shot over 50 percent from the field. For the rest of the games, he has shot around 33 percent.

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He looks timid at times and just doesn’t seem to be the same player ever since his hamstring injury last year. We have been used to Harden being one of the best scorers in the NBA.

Now, he is averaging about 20 points each game. That isn’t bad, especially when he is racking up assists but he needs to be more aggressive, especially because of the next point.

Joel Embiid is unstoppable and he would be my vote for this year’s MVP. However, he hurt his thumb in Game 3 of their current series.

While he is still playing well, it is clear that it is affecting him. The 76ers haven’t won a game since he injured his thumb.

If Embiid is less than 100 percent and James Harden is shooting poorly, while throwing several turnovers, this could be a good time for the Heat to play the 76ers. Embiid will still be very difficult to guard.

Even an elite defender like Bam Adebayo will have a hard time guarding the seven-foot All-NBA talent as an undersized center, but Embiid’s thumb should make things a little bit easier for Bam and the Miami Heat.

The Heat vs. the 76ers would be a great series. With the Heat’s combination of shooting and defense, they should be able to overcome the elite offensive weapons of the 76ers, especially if they are dealing with several issues.