NBA Playoffs 2018: Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat Game 2 - Match Preview
The Philadelphia 76ers won their 17th consecutive game in a row in some style as they demolished the Miami Heat, 130-103, in Game 1 of their first-round series. It was yet another spectacular team effort from the Sixers led by rookie sensation Ben Simmons, who went for 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 14 assists in his playoffs debut.
The outstanding shooting guard platoon of JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli kept up their hot shooting by combining for 53 points on 8-of-13 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, power forwards Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also came up big to provide 37 total points in the continued absence of star big Joel Embiid, who will once again be unavailable for Game 2.
As for the Heat, they hardly had anyone going offensively apart from big man Kelly Olynyk, who had 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting off the bench. Top scorer and floor general Goran Dragic had just 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting, while swingman Josh Richardson had only four points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Meanwhile, Big man Hassan Whiteside played a mere 12 minutes and finished with two points and six rebounds.
Three keys to the game
Sixers’ hot shooting – Redick and Belinelli came into the game shooting incredibly well, and they carried over that red-hot shooting against the Heat. But they weren’t the only ones who were feeling it from beyond the arc.
The Sixers as a team shot a scintillating 64 percent (18-of-28) on 3-pointers, which is unbelievable. It’s going to be hard to shoot that well for a second-straight game, but if they can even come close to that level, the Sixers should be in great shape to go up 2-0.
Heat's offensive spark – Miami were always going to struggle to keep up given how the Sixers were shooting the ball from deep. Regardless, the awful offensive performance from their stars, notably Dragic and Richardson, is unacceptable.
As a team with clear offensive limitations, they can’t afford a repeat performance if they want to even up this series. Dragic, in particular, will need to snap out of his recent funk and provide the spark the Heat desperately need.
Main big man for Miami – Coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to bench Hassan Whiteside for Kelly Olynyk was understandable given the how ineffectual the Heat big man was when he was on the floor.
But even if he improves, can he do so enough to justify playing big minutes in this series? With the Heat’s need for better offense – which also means better spacing – Olynyk might be the better option moving forward.
Matchup to watch
Kelly Olynyk vs Ersan Ilyasova – Who would’ve expected the two stretch big men to be the standout offensive performers on their respective teams? Chances are one of those two players falls back down to earth in Game 2, but that could end up being a significant factor which decides how the game plays out.
Heat probable starters
PG – Goran Dragic
SG – Tyler Johnson
SF – Josh Richardson
PF – James Johnson
C – Hassan Whiteside
76ers probable starters
PG – Ben Simmons
SG – JJ Redick
SF – Robert Covington
PF – Dario Saric
C – Amir Johnson
Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center
Date and time: ET - 16 April 2018 8:00 PM; IST - 17 April 2018, 5:30 AM