Playoff Preview: Miami vs. Philadelphia

3. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 52-30

Offense: No. 11

Defense: No. 3

Head Coach: Brett Brown (0-0 playoff record)

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

2017-18 Leaders (SUPERGLOOO season total in parentheses): Ben Simmons 25.55 (1454.22); Joel Embiid 32.03 (1275.66); Robert Covington 21.63 (1140.72); J.J. Redick 21.53 (948.89); Dario Saric 19.53 (939.64).

Prolific Playoff Performers (SUPERGLOOO career total in parentheses): J.J. Redick 11.65 (532.02).

The 5,000 Minute Rule: Robert Covington 8503; T.J. McConnell 5448.

STARTERS MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Ben Simmons  33.7  15.8  8.1  8.2  1.7 steals per game
 F Robert Covington  31.7  12.6  5.4  2.0  1.7 steals per game
 C Joel Embiid*  30.3  22.9  11.0  3.2  1.8 blocks per game
 G J.J. Redick  30.2  17.1  2.5  3.0  .614 true shooting %
 F Dario Saric  29.6  14.6  6.7  2.6  .393 3-point %w

Key: MPG minutes per game; PPG points per game; RPG rebounds per game; APG assists per game; SUPERGLOOO metric derived from Player Efficiency Rating, along with On and On-Off plus-minus ratings; * denotes injured player may miss playoff games.

KEY RESERVES MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Marco Belinelli  24.3  12.1  1.9  1.9  1.9 3-pointers per game
 F Ersan Ilyasova  25.1  10.9  6.7  1.7  0.9 steals per game
 G Jerryd Bayless  23.7  7.9  2.1  1.4  .370 3-point %
 G T.J. McConnell  22.4  6.3  3.0  4.0  .435 3-point %
 G Markelle Fultz  18.1  7.1  3.1  3.8  18 games
 C Amir Johnson  15.8  4.6  4.5  1.6  .570 2-point %
 C Richaun Holmes  15.5  6.5  4.4  1.3  .624 2-point %
 G Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot*  15.5  5.8  1.4  1.0  .335 3-point %
 G Justin Anderson  13.7  6.2  2.4  0.7  .535 2-point %

6. Miami Heat

Record: 44-38

Offense: No. 20

Defense: No. 7

Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra (70-43 playoff record)

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

2017-18 Leaders (SUPERGLOOO season total in parentheses): Kelly Olynyk 23.18 (858.92); Goran Dragic 16.38 (811.24); Josh Richardson 14.38 (805.30); James Johnson 15,95 (645.64); Wayne Ellington 14.98 (636.75).

Prolific Playoff Performers (SUPERGLOOO career total in parentheses): Dwyane Wade 24.95 (3415.03); Udonis Haslem 10.43 (693.70).

The 5,000 Minute Rule: Dwyane Wade 37,425; Udonis Haslem 24,642; Goran Dragic 8575; Hassan Whiteside 7437; Josh Richardson 5797; Tyler Johnson 5759.

STARTERS MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 F Josh Richardson  33.2  12.9  3.5  2.9  1.5 steals per game
 G Goran Dragic  31.7  17.3  4.1  4.8  .370 3-point %
 G Tyler Johnson  28.5  11.7  3.4  2.3  .367 3-point %
 F James Johnson  26.6  10.8  4.9  3.8  1.0 steals per game
 C Hassan Whiteside  25.3  14.0  11.4  1.0  1.7 blocks per game

Key: MPG minutes per game; PPG points per game; RPG rebounds per game; APG assists per game; SUPERGLOOO metric derived from Player Efficiency Rating, along with On and On-Off plus-minus ratings; * denotes injured player may miss playoff games.

KEY RESERVES MPG PPG RPG APG NOTE
 G Wayne Ellington  26.5  11.2  2.8  1.0  .588 true shooting %
 F Justise Winslow  24.7  7.8  5.4  2.2  .380 3-point %
 C Kelly Olynyk  23.4  11.5  5.7  2.7  .612 true shooting %
 G Dwyane Wade  22.9  11.4  3.8  3.4  0.9 steals per game
 C Bam Adebayo  19.8  6.9  5.5  1.5  .523 2-point %
 F Luke Babbitt  14.3  5.2  1.9  0.6  .385 3-point %
 G Dion Waiters*  30.6  14.3  2.6  3.8  0.8 steals per game

 

For all intents and purposes, this is Ben Simmons’ first full season with the Sixers, just as it is J.J. Redick’s, just as it is Joel Embiid’s when you get right down to it. On the flip side, Miami has a team of non-stars  groomed in Heat culture for years now. They meet #The5000MinuteRule criteria and have as much familiarity with each other as any other team in the Eastern Conference. What Philly has (unlimited potential) and lacks (playoff experience) is conversely what Miami has (a plethora of good role players who have playoff experience together). Philly is the favorite, but Miami is now the unlikely underdog.

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Only five years removed from being the super villain super team, now the Heat are David versus Goliath while maintaining the resumé of a King David (built by King James back in the day, of course). Much will be written about the Embiid versus Hassan Whiteside matchup, but the beauty of Coach Erik Spoelstra’s setup is that he does not necessarily need to play Whiteside 30-plus minutes to combat Embiid. Coach Spo may want to drag Philly’s shotblocker outside and counter with his stretch center Kelly Olynyk, one of the best supersubs in the game today. Spo may go young and athletic with rookie Bam Adebayo. And when he wants to match force with force, we will all be treated to the one-on-one post-up showdowns between Embiid and Whiteside, Twitter warriors and basketball rivals.

Dwyane Wade will draw his fair share of focus, but that does not mean Goran Dragic might not drive the car on most nights. And Dragic himself might pass the keys along to Tyler Johnson or Josh Richardson or James Johnson, who all have experience in taking advantages of mismatches when the time calls. Unfortunately, Philly’s starting lineup—one of the best in the NBA—does not have many soft spots. The Sixers’ bench, however, does. Thanks God Philly management picked up foreign help after the All-Star break in Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova to upgrade their reserves from poor to mediocre. If Miami is going to make runs on Philadelphia, more often than not you will see it coming against the 76ers’ second string. As evidence, the Sixers’ starters posted a +21.4 net rating per 100 possessions, thanks to the defensive work put forth by Embiid, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Redick and Simmons in 600 minutes together (95.7 defensive efficiency). Judging from the defensive-minded coaches here, this series is likely to turn into a low-scoring affair, with Spo doing whatever he can to limit Brett Brown’s urge to run, by suppressing games and breaks, Pat Riley-style, if you know what I mean.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Miami has the bodies to make this a physical series if it wants (Whiteside, Adebayo, Johnson, Winslow, etc.). Philly, on the other hand, is the inexperienced superhuman who has no idea what his potential is. Many of their players will go on to All-NBA, All-Star and All-Defense careers. And for those, this will be their first playoff contest. Still, the Sixers do not know what three-time NBA champion and 2006 Finals MVP Dwyane Wade knows. And they do not have the corporate knowledge of a 36-year-old Wade, Udonis Haslem, Dragic, Whiteside, Richardson, Johnson or Johnson either. Philly has much better players, but Miami knows a thing or team about being a great team.

76ERS IN 6.