76ers vs. Heat Game 1 Odds, Pick, Prediction: 2 Picks To Back Miami Against Injured Sixers (May 2)

76ers vs. Heat Game 1 Odds, Pick, Prediction: 2 Picks To Back Miami Against Injured Sixers (May 2) article feature image

Mark Blinch/Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden.

  • The 76ers are 7.5-point underdogs for Game 1 tonight in Miami.
  • Philadelphia faces an uphill battle without MVP candidate Joel Embiid.
  • Matt Moore breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting picks for Game 1 below.

76ers vs. Heat Odds

76ers Odds+7.5
Heat Odds-7.5
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

What should be a titanic battle between the likely MVP runner-up and the No. 1 seed in the East has had the wind taken out of it with the unfortunate news of Joel Embiid's facial injury.

Embiid is reportedly expected to return at some point in this series, but until he does, it's going to be a tough hill to climb for James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris. Can the Philadelphia 76ers hang in on South Beach? Or will the Miami Heat, shorthanded in their own right, take care of business in Game 1?

Let's bet Sixers-Heat.

James Harden's Burden Will Be Heavier

Along with Embiid being out for this game, reserve big Charles Bassey is questionable with a shoulder strain.

Poor James Harden. He gets out of Houston because he doesn't want to be without a superstar (and lost faith in the team's direction) and joins his friends in Brooklyn. Then Kevin Durant gets hurt, and Kyrie Irving is out (resistance to counter-pandemic measures), and once again Harden is on his own. So he asks out again.

Now he's on the Sixers and guess what? He's the only All-Star again.

Tyrese Maxey has been incredible since the trade for Harden, and Tobias Harris has stepped up big time. But the engine that drives this offense will be Harden. And if there's one team you don't really want to be a heliocentric, one-engine team against, it's Miami.

The Sixers will switch everything, then bring help. There will be easier draws for Harden; with the Miami injuries he should be able to target Duncan Robinson in any minutes they're playing together, and Tyler Herro makes for a weak spot to probe.

But Harden just also hasn't been the same guy. In Houston, he shot 51.2% on 2-pointers. With Philadelphia in the regular season, he's shot just 47.6% and he shot 48.7% in the first-round series against the Toronto Raptors.

Without the threat of the floater or layups, the Heat will crowd Harden's step-back 3-pointer, which was at just 31% in the regular season, though it did rise to 38% in the series vs. Toronto.

Expect the Heat to sit on Harden's left hip to deter him; Jimmy Butler has been one of the best defenders in the league over the last few years on Harden. Harden averages the fourth-most turnovers per 100 matchups when faced with Butler. The Heat overall in that span have held Harden to the sixth-fewest shots per 100 matchups.

The question will be how much the Heat help on Harden. Can Harden really put up a 50-burger to force Miami to start doubling? Or will the Heat just accept Harden's scoring to try and hold down Maxey and Harris? The Heat give up the second-most 3-point attempts per 100 possessions in the league this season and the fifth-most makes.

Georges Niang was awful in the Toronto series; he'll have to have a better showing here. Matisse Thybulle is thought to be a better option, but putting a non-offensive threat on the floor against the Heat is fraught with consequences.

A Sixers win looks like a huge game from Harris, Maxey getting out in transition off turnovers, and the Sixers bombing from three. It's a lot to ask for a team that was built around the guy who won't be able to play in Game 1.

Shorthanded Heat Still Have Advantages

The Heat's injury list is long.

Kyle Lowry is out with a hamstring strain. Jimmy Butler is questionable with knee inflammation. PJ Tucker is questionable with a calf strain. Max Strus is questionable with a hamstring strain. Caleb Martin is questionable with an ankle sprain. Tyler Herro and Markieff Morris are both questionable as they deal with the effects of a non-COVID illness. With five days off, the bulk of this list should be good to go.

This is a series where Bam Adebayo should be able to shine, especially with Embiid out. The Sixers' bigs will be trying to quarterback their rim protection, leaving Adebayo open at the 10-foot range for his short jumper. He should be able to get loose for rolls and short pops in pick-and-roll.

The guards should have a good time, too. The Sixers primarily play drop. Even if they try and play small with Paul Reed at center and switch everything, Reed is not good enough to change with Herro or Victor Oladipo.

I think there's really good value on most of the supporting cast for Miami in points and 3-pointers props if you can get them closer to tip. Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin, in particular, seem to be good fits to attack what the Sixers will try defensively.

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76ers-Heat Pick

The line -4 and -4.5 for the Heat before the Embiid news dropped. It's moved from Heat -8.5 to Heat -7.5 and we've tracked 10 sharp moves in the Action Network app on Philly.

If this number goes below 7 to -6.5, there's value on the Heat. Full strength I make this Miami -4.7, and you can factor Embiid for about three points of value. (Maybe less considering that Miami has matched up very well vs. him over the years; Bam Adebayo is 7-3 in his regular-season career straight-up vs. Embiid. )

At anything seven or above, I think it's a stay away, though I lean towards the Heat based on the fact that I think the Embiid impact on the line is a little overstated in this matchup.

I lean under, but won't bet it. Harden is too much of a known unknown at this point. The Raptors' mediocre 25th-ranked half-court offense put up the sixth-best half-court offense in the playoffs so far vs. Philly. As such, I think there's value on Miami's team total over at 107.5.

Also, if books post the lines, I'll be interested in the over on Martin's 3-point prop and Oladipo's points prop.

Pick: Heat -6.5 or better | Heat Over 107.5

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