Just a win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat will look to finish business in the second round this Friday on the road versus the Philadelphia 76ers? Is this the end for the Sixers? Or, will the Heat send Joel Embiid and company on an early vacation? With that said, here are three bold predictions for the Heat for tonight’s showdown with the desperate Sixers.
3 bold predictions for the Heat in Game 6 vs. Sixers
3. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus combine for at least 50 points
Closing out a series is always a tricky venture and sometimes, it’s the guys not really expected to come up big in key games who actually put the incredible performances. And since we are talking about bold predictions here for the Heat, how about saying that two peripheral Miami players in Gabe Vincent and Max Strus will deal the most painful blow to the Sixers? Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro are the top guns out there for Miami, so they will have their usual numbers, more or less, while Vincent and Strus further ruin the night for the Sixers with All-Staresque scoring numbers in a closeout game.
Of course, for Vincent, his scoring output is contingent on whether veteran point guard Kyle Lowry will be able to play in Game 6 (and if he does, on how much action will he actually have on the floor). There’s also the report that Vincent is questionable to play in Game 6 because of a knee issue. But assuming Lowry won’t suit up and Vincent does, the 25-year-old Vincent this Thursday, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for the latter to shine. In Game 5, he spent 28 minutes on the floor and finished with 15 points on 5/7 shooting to go with five rebounds and a couple of assists.
Strus wasn’t too shabby either, as he ended up with the second-best scoring output among Heat players in that game with 19 on the strength of four 3-pointers and a 7/13 shooting from the field across 28 minutes as well. That should feed his confidence going into Game 6, while also protecting his spot as a starter. His aggressiveness in Game 5 paid off, and you can bet he’ll have the same mindset later tonight, given how that helped him to break out in the last outing.
Via Jayden Armant of Sports Illustrated:
“After those last two games, watching the film, I had to be more aggressive,” Strus said. “I had open looks in Philly, but I just wasn’t shooting them. I think that was the key for me tonight. Just be aggressive and come out firing. Make or miss, it doesn’t matter. Just if I get a look, try to take it and take advantage of what they give me. That was my attitude tonight. Once the first went down, it kind of affected the team. Once you make shots, it opens up everything else for everyone else.”
2. Jimmy Butler hits four 3-pointers
Butler is known to have a small appetite for 3-pointers, opting to make a living off mid-range shots. Only 22.5 percent of his field goal attempts in the playoffs have come from behind the arc. His .140 3PAr is fifth-lowest among Heat players in the regular season. But for the first time in the playoffs, Butler was able to hit multiple 3-pointers in consecutive contests, going 2/6 in Game 4 and 2/4 in Game 5. Is he feeling it right now? Butler’s not going for force shots from deep, but he’s really shown willingness to take them of late. In a closeout game, he can disorient Philly’s defense by continuing to play a bit out of character.
1. Bam Adebayo shuts down Joel Embiid
It would take a tremendous team effort for the Heat to slow down Embiid, and at the forefront of that mission is Adebayo. Embiid is going to be a central figure of the Sixers’ offense regardless of what’s on the line. They will live and die with their best player. He will get his touches and will find his spots, and expect Adebayo to challenge him all game long.
Been a DOMINANT defensive performance by the Miami Heat
Make James Harden see a crowd when he comes off the DHO
And excellent island defense by Bam Adebayo, blocking Joel Embiid's jumper pic.twitter.com/hjedSYNsjR
— Jackson Lloyd (@JacksonLloydNBA) May 11, 2022
Back in Game 5, Embiid was held to only 17 points on 7/12 shooting, as Adebayo and the Heat played as honestly as they could, resulting in Embiid attempting just three free-throw attempts. Game 6 provides a chance for Adebayo to make another big statement on why he’s among the best defensive players in the game today 00 just like the way Jrue Holiday did in the Milwaukee Bucks’ Game 5 win at TD Garden over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. Neutralizing an MVP-caliber player in a potential series-clincher is a kind of performance that gets remembered for a long time.