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Flaming Hot Takes: Miami Heat’s Bold Predictions for Epic Showdown with 76ers in 2024 NBA Play-In Tournament

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The winner of the matchup faces the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

It’s an understatement how huge of a game it is for the Miami Heat Wednesday night as they face the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Play-In Tournament. As the eighth seed, the game is on the road with a hostile environment awaiting Miami with the winner of the contest facing the No. 2 seed in the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

Once again, the Heat have their backs against the wall as they are looked at as the underdogs this game going against a team that has stars like Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey who have been hot as of recent. For Miami though, that is more of the usual for how they’ve been viewed the past few years.

They were seen in the same light last season as they lost their first play-in game to the Atlanta Hawks, squeaked out against the Chicago Bulls, and ended up making it to the NBA Finals over series wins to the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and the Knicks. There is no doubt the underdog role is something that the Heat have embraced leading to their success, but Philadelphia would be at fault for not expecting a dogfight on their own floor.

With that being said, here are our bold predictions for the Miami Heat against the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Play-In Tournament:

Maintaining Joel Embiid a huge task for Bam Adebayo

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22), Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) box-out during free throw during the second half at Kaseya Center.
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The hardest task the Heat have heading into the matchup Wednesday will be finding any way to slow down superstar Joel Embiid in his tracks. Philadelphia has been excellent as of late due to the return of Embiid who missed a significant portion of the season.

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In the 39 games that he played, he was putting up MVP-type numbers as the center was averaging 34.7 points, 11 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field. However, if there was one player that could at least maintain Embiid, it would be star Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo is one of the best defensive big-men in the league, really, one of the best players on that side of the ball period. It’s always been a physical battle between Embiid and the Heat star as the two teams face against each other regularly.

However, in the four times the teams matched up against each other, Embiid only played once because of the aforementioned injury and it was on April 4 where he scored 29 points. Adebayo has a knack for adapting to his competition and plus Embiid is still not at 100 percent as he’s questionable with a knee injury as the University of Kentucky product has a chance to be the deciding factor for Miami.

Erik Spoelstra talks about how Embiid changes a team’s defense

Wednesday, expect a huge game for Adebayo on the defensive side of the ball as while he won’t completely shut down Embiid, he’ll slow him down enough to make this a back and forth affair. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke after Tuesday’s practice and talked about how the 76ers player changes a defense.

“It pulls your defense in a different way. So you invert it, obviously. And if you’re not extending your defensive three point line with him, he’ll make you pay just he did in the first half, the last time we played him,” Spoelstra said. “But he can do it with all facets. So in a one game sample, he can do it in the post, from out there, in pick and rolls, pick and pops, all of that. It has to be our best, most formative version defensively in whatever game he’s bringing.”

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The start of Playoff Jimmy Butler?

It has become a constant joke and meme about players coming into a different form when it comes to the playoffs, but it can be argued that started with Heat star Jimmy Butler. While he’s done it for multiple playoff stints, there’s no doubt it was put on display last year where he blew up during the first round series against the Bucks and looked like as some would say “the second coming of Michael Jordan.”

However, Butler believes it’s blown out of proportion and that the “Playoff Jimmy” rhetoric is “not a thing.” He even was interviewed by SLAM magazine about that topic and said he has repeated that a plentiful of times.

“That’s not a thing for the hundredth time,” Butler said to SLAM. “Playoff Jimmy is not a thing. Emo Jimmy, thing. Football Jimmy, thing. Tennis Jimmy, thing. Daddy Jimmy, thing. Zaddy Jimmy, thing. But Playoff Jimmy, not so much.”

Whether he believes it or not is one thing, but it’s hard to argue that Butler doesn’t turn on a switch during the playoffs. He even has said before that one of the keys to winning a championship is playing the best basketball in the postseason and that has happened regularly with him and needs to happen Wednesday against the 76ers.

There have been some points where Butler been too much of a team-first player which is a trait he embraces, but has to find a balance of being a facilitator and also being aggressive and the main offensive player on the floor. It’s crucial to the Heat’s success, especially against a team like Philadelphia that has two dynamic offensive players.

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Tyler Herro’s heroic performance leading to win for Heat?

While Miami will be mostly healthy for the key play-in game, star Terry Rozier will be out for is fifth straight game with a neck injury. He has been exceptional for the Heat as he acted more so as a complimentary piece being a facilitator, but also a shot creator and with him out, one can’t help but believe Tyler Herro needs to have a great performance.

Herro has a big chip on his shoulder as he’s eager to help the Heat during the postseason as last year he was absent for the most part with a broken hand. If there was one aspect of his game that’s been improved, it’s his play-making skills in being that aforementioned facilitator that has stood out when on the court.

Besides his passing, he has the opportunity to be an exciting shot creator and get hot during the game in the chance Butler doesn’t have his best outing. With all the previous predictions in mind, the Heat have the opportunity to put this game in the mud as they have done all season and come out with the upset road win.

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