2018 NBA Playoffs Preview: Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat, SWOT Analysis & Prediction
There will be no opportunity for rival fans to crack disparaging 'Process' jokes in the near future to embarrass the Sixers faithful, as they go into the first round of the playoffs with the third seed and home-court advantage. Not only do they own an impressive 52-30 record for the season, they finished the campaign as the hottest team in the league with a 16-game winning streak.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, have blown hot and cold. Headed into the All-Star break on the heels of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who occupied the 3rd seed at the time, the Heat finished the season 6th in the Eastern Conference standings. An improvement over their record from the 2016-17 season, definitely, but you get the feeling that they underachieved over the latter 40% of the season.
This series makes for an exciting watch because it pits two excellent coaches against each other, both with teams comprising a number of players who are the basketball equivalents of Swiss Knives. Let's take a look at what we can expect from both sides in this series:
The Sixers rank first in the league in field-goal percentage allowed at 43.4%. They are also great at defending 3-pointers, ranking 2nd in the league in this category allowing only 34.2% conversion from downtown. Their defense ranked third in defensive rating during the regular season, allowing only 102.0 points per 100 possessions.
The Sixers are also a great passing team, ranking first in total passes per game and second in team assists per game over the course of the regular season.
Rounding it off, they are also the best rebounding team in the league with 47.4 boards per game, beating the Lakers in the #2 spot by over 1 rebound per game, and the Portland Trail Blazers (the closest playoff team) by a margin of 1.9.
All-in-all, they are a well-rounded basketball team with a number of strengths in different areas of the game.
The greatest strength the Miami Heat possess is the extraordinary depth of their rotation.
Despite missing one of their featured scorers in Dion Waiters for the most part of this season, they have found ways to put the ball through the hoop. Their wing rotation comprises of Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow, Wayne Ellington and Luke Babbitt - who're all capable of holding their own against the biggest names in basketball today.
Their frontcourt is similarly stacked, with Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk and veteran Udonis Haslem all capable of putting in impactful performances against the best in the business.
Their point guard rotation comprises of All-Star Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson. Dragic is an elite point guard who often goes under the radar, while Tyler Johnson is a steady presence on the court who is a really good defender and able playmaker.