The No. 1 Miami Heat will take on the No. 4 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, beginning on Monday, May 2. Philadelphia avoided an implosion after it went up 3-0 on the Toronto Raptors in the first round, but lost two straight as the Raptors looked to battle back. The 76ers finished off the series with a statement 132-97 win in Game 6, and will now face a Heat team who handily defeated the Atlanta Hawks 4-1 in the first round.
Let’s take a look at the series ahead, with odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Heat vs. 76ers predictions
Odds to win series: Heat -165, Sixers +135
Regular season record: Heat 53-29, Sixers 51-31
Head-to-head record: 2-2
The Heat didn’t have much trouble with the Hawks, defeating them by double digits in all but one of their four wins. Atlanta’s only win came due to some late-game heroics from Trae Young in the dying seconds of the game, as they took Game 3 with a 111-110 score. Finishing the series in five games did them some good, giving the team a little more time to rest as Kyle Lowry (hamstring) and Jimmy Butler (knee) were sidelined during Game 5.
The Sixers had a tougher time against the Raptors after they went up 3-0 and looked like they’d complete the sweep in Game 4. Toronto battled back and won two games straight as Joel Embiid struggled in both. Game 6 was exactly what Philly was looking for, as Embiid led with 33 points and Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Tobias Harris, and Danny Green all put up double digit points as well.
The Sixers and the Heat never met up with full-strength squads during the regular season, so assuming Lowry and Butler are healthy, Game 1 will be a good barometer of how the rest of the series will play out. The Heat will find themselves with a size mismatch when trying to defend Embiid, as he stands three inches taller than Miami’s big man Bam Adebayo.
Pick: Sixers in 7 games
If Embiid and the 76ers can come out and play like they did in the first three games of the Hawks series, they’ll have a really good shot at moving on to the Eastern conference finals. Miami is a tough physical team and Embiid will need to be on top of his game to control the paint and dominate the glass. It may take the Heat a game or two of adjusting their plan to settle in and grab some wins, but Embiid will be the key that unlocks the series for the Sixers if he can stay on top of his game. It’ll be a long, hard-fought series, but I see the Sixers getting the edge in seven.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-877-770-STOP (7867) (LA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), visit OPGR.org (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).21+ (18+ NH/WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.