Two more Game 2s are on the NBA playoff schedule Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Heat host the 76ers after running away with Game 1 in the second half Monday. Joel Embiid and Kyle Lowry both remain out for Game 2.
And the No. 1 Suns get the Mavericks at home again after handling Dallas despite Luka Dončić’s offensive explosion in the first meeting.
Regular-season record: 117-113-2
Play-in/playoffs record: 44-39
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET | TNT
Spread: 76ers +8.5 (-118) | Heat -8.5 (+100)
Moneyline: 76ers (+310) | Heat (-400)
Total: Under 207.5 (-110) | Over 207.5 (-110)
It’s apparent the 76ers need more from James Harden to even make this series competitive. A lot more. After a solid first half, Philadelphia’s All-Star guard tailed off and Miami’s lead ballooned. The Heat didn’t even play particularly well in Game 1 yet they still came away with a 106-92 win.
The only 76ers player who played well enough to win was Tobias Harris. He scored 27 points, his most in these playoffs, and was the only volume shooter who shot above 50% from the field. Harden played poorly, tallying 16 points and five turnovers to cancel out his five assists, though Doc Rivers’ is rightfully taking about as much heat as Harden. He elected to play Deandre Jordan 17 minutes—more than Paul Reed—whose lackluster defense allowed Miami to feast inside.
The team played much better going small than trying to match the Heat’s size with Jordan. The lineups Philly uses while Embiid (concussion, orbital fracture) recovers will decide whether this series can be salvaged or not if or when he does return.
Miami, still playing without its point guard in Lowry (hamstring), didn’t get much from the stars of the Atlanta series. Jimmy Butler didn’t shoot the ball well (5-16) and neither did Gabe Vincent (4-12) or Max Strus (2-8). Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, who sleepwalked through the Hawks series, woke up against the 76ers.
Adebayo was dominant, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds and Herro, on the night he won Sixth Man of the Year, came off the bench to deliver 25 points and seven assists. The Heat compensated for below-average shooting by outrebounding the 76ers by 10, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds and winning the turnover battle.
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Outside shots have to drop for Philadelphia to have any chance. The 76ers have been one of the better three-point shooting teams in the postseason so far and they connected on 6-34 shots from beyond the arc. That included Maxey’s 1-6 three-point shooting in a down game for the second-year guard.
The Heat trailed, 51-50, at halftime and simply ran away with the game in the final 24 minutes, but Philly showed it can hang with Miami. It’s on Maxey, Harden and role players like Georges Niang to not shoot 0-7 from deep to make that happen for a full game, not just a half. This line is too rich for me, I’ll take the 76ers to keep it close.
BETS: 76ers +8.5 (-110); James Harden Over 22.5 Points (-116)
Time: 10 p.m. ET | TNT
Spread: Mavericks +6.5 (-118) | Suns -6.5 (+100)
Moneyline: Mavericks (+205) | Suns (-250)
Total: Under 215.5 (-110) | Over 215.5 (-110)
Game 1 was not as close as the final score may have indicated. The Suns led by double-digits for the majority of the final frame before a late Mavericks’ push made the final score more palatable for Dallas. That the game was never truly in doubt despite Luka Dončić exploding for 45 points is an indication of just how much better the Suns are than the Jazz, the Mavericks’ previous playoff opponent.
The Mavericks are less known for their defense with Dončić as the face of the franchise, but they finished the regular season with the third-best defensive rating in the league. Dallas held Utah, which had the No. 1 offensive rating, under 100 points on average over the course of its six-games first round series. Phoenix scored 121 points on that unit, more than it scored against New Orleans in any game.
Even with the slight Chris Paul running the show, the Suns have a size advantage and that played out in Game 1. They won the rebounding battle, 51-36, and Deandre Ayton was dominant, finishing with 25 points and eight boards. Every Suns’ starter grabbed at least five rebounds—Dončić led his team with 12 and no one else corralled more than six.
Dallas outshot the Suns, 16-11, from outside, but Dončić did not get the help he needed from Jalen Brunson (playoff-low 13 points) or Spencer Dinwiddie (eight points) against Phoenix’s fearsome defense.
Everything the Suns did in Game 1 felt highly replicable. What Dončić did, amazing as he is, isn’t—especially if he’s not at 100%. Phoenix’s size advantage is difficult to overcome and, as Jason Kidd pointed out before the series, the Suns’ bigs are a bigger problem than Utah’s. The Suns take a 2-0 lead into Dallas over the weekend.
BETS: Suns -6.5 (-110); Dorian Finney-Smith Over 12.5 Points (-102)
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