NBA Play-In: Heat-76ers Preview, Props & Prediction

The Eastern Conference takes the stage Wednesday for the NBA’s play-in round, with the Philadelphia 76ers playing host to the Miami Heat in the first game of the night.

The Sixers appear likely to have star Joel Embiid, who tweaked his left knee in a game last Friday, and Philadelphia (47-35) is a consensus 5.5-point favorite to dispatch the Heat (46-36).


The Sixers have been the popular pick at most sportsbooks. That includes BetMGM, where they have been backed by 76 percent of the spread-line money, and BetRivers, where they have drawn 59 percent.

Philadelphia’s -225 moneyline at both books has been even more popular, with the 76ers backed by 73 percent of the money at BetMGM and 93 percent at BetRivers.

Prediction: With Embiid on the floor the 76ers are simply the superior team. However, this is the biggest spread of the play-in round thus far and Miami’s veteran roster won’t go down without a serious fight. — 76ers 105, Heat 102


Joel Embiid Over 29.5 Points (-134 at BetRivers): The same market at BetMGM is 30.5 points at -110, but we’ll take the extra point at a lower payout because it could easily make the difference. While Embiid is averaging 34.7 points for the season, he’s also dealing with the knee issue and Bam Adebayo is a difficult defensive counterpart.

The seven-time All-Star scored 29 points in Philadelphia’s 109-105 victory over the Heat earlier this month.


Embiid tweaked his left knee during the 76ers’ win on Friday against the Orlando Magic, an injury that occurred in his just fifth game after being sidelined two months due to a torn meniscus.

After sitting out Sunday’s regular-season finale, Embiid was on the court for the portion of Wednesday’s shootaround open to the media and reportedly participated fully. That aligns with coach Nick Nurse’s hope to have the reigning MVP available come game time.

“Yeah, hopefully,” Nurse said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Not sure on anybody, but I’m hopeful.”

Miami has its own injury concerns. Kevin Love exited the Heat’s season finale on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors due to a left arm injury.

Terry Rozier (neck) and Duncan Robinson (back) have missed the last four games due to their respective injuries.


Standing in Philadelphia’s way on Wednesday is Jimmy Butler, or “Playoff Jimmy” as he’s known at this time of the year.

Butler, who was traded from the 76ers to the Heat in the summer of 2019, has guided Miami to two NBA Finals appearances in the last four seasons.

The six-time All-Star averaged 20.8 points, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals this season for the Heat, who won seven of their final 10 games.

Butler, however, was not interested in reflecting on last season’s team that navigated its way out of the play-in tournament. Miami ousted the Milwaukee Bucks in five games, New York in six and Boston in seven before falling to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.

“We’re not the same group as last year,” Butler said, per the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “So we’ll leave that where it’s at and we’re moving forward with the group that we do have.

“But we, I, are very confident in the guys we do have and we know what we’re capable of.”

Adebayo contributed 19.3 points and 10.4 rebounds this season.


With a win, the 76ers likely can secure the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed and set up a first-round series against the second-seeded New York Knicks. The loser of Wednesday’s contest will play an elimination game on Friday against either the Chicago Bulls or Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed — and the right to play the top-seeded Boston Celtics.