The Miami Heat continue their playoff run tonight at 7:30 against the Philadelphia 76ers at the FTX Arena for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Sixers center Joel Embiid was hurt in the first-round series against the Toronto Raptors and did not make the trip to Miami. Also out is Heat point guard Kyle Lowry.
The first-place Heat defeated the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in five games in the first round, and hope to continue their momentum tonight despite nearly a week break.
The 76ers roll into tonight’s matchup fresh off a Game 6 win against the Toronto Raptors. They took a 3-0 lead, but lost consecutive games before clinching the series.
During Philadelphia’s final win, Embiid suffered an orbital fracture and a concussion which ruled him out definitively for Game 1 and 2 in Miami. ESPN reported that he may be reevaluated and cleared to return as early as Game 3 or 4 in Philadelphia with a face mask.
Additionally, Embiid suffered from a torn ligament in his right thumb during Game 3 of the same series.
Now Philadelphia must try to compete in the series missing their franchise cornerstone and current finalist for NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.
Embiid, who leads the team in points, rebounds, and field-goal attempts in the postseason, will be a huge factor in this series. His absence leaves a gap that will require co-star James Harden and young guard Tyrese Maxey to fill the scoring void.
Lowry is nursing a hamstring injury.
Other Heat players listed as questionable are Jimmy Butler, who missed Game 6 due to right knee soreness and role players Tyler Herro, PJ Tucker, Max Strus, Caleb Morris, and Markief Morris.
In Lowry’s absence, expect Sixth Man of the Year finalist Tyler Herro to step up in his role and fill in the playmaking void left by Lowry.
Herro, now in his third year and exceling in his role off the bench, has averaged 20.7 points and 4 assists a game, an increase from last season’s averages. Despite his struggles in the first-round series vs. the Hawks, he may have an increased role as he tries to find his momentum once again.
Philadelphia has a great ability to draw fouls and has the highest made free-throw percentage in the postseason.
Another key player in this series is Victor Oladipo, who scored 23 points in the last game against the Hawks, and will try to break into the playoff rotation.
On the offensive end, Butler will look to continue his momentum from the first round, where he averaged 30.5 points per game, and attack the paint as the 76ers miss their defensive anchor.
ESPN analysts unanimously voted yesterday for the Heat to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the winner of the Celtics vs. Bucks series.
This morning there were plenty of tickets available to purchase on Vivid Seats. The most expensive: $22,500 for courtside seats.
Miami opens Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal tonight at FTX Arena against the Philadelphia 76ers, available on TNT at 7:30 p.m.