The 1-seed Heat host the 4-seed Sixers in game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night. This series has made headlines all weekend, before the ball was even tipped. The Sixers were dealt a surprising blow Saturday night when it was announced Joel Embiid was out indefinitely with a fractured Orbital bone and a concussion. The all-star center did not make the trip to Miami with the team and will miss at least games 1 and 2. The Heat are dealing with injury problems of their own, however. Kyle Lowry will miss game 1 with a hamstring injury; the same one that caused him to miss games in the Heat’s round 1 series against the Hawks.
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How does this news impact the betting lines? After the injury news, the line jumped to 8 points and has now settled at 7.5 for most books. A line this long is almost unheard of in round 2 playoff games. That’s why I will be staying away from the spread and looking at the total and player props. The Embiid injury will have an effect on both Sixers and Heat player props. Specifically, I’m eying Tobias Harris under props. Harris will be asked to pick up a large share of the defensive slack without Embiid on the court. He’ll need to pull double duty as the primary on Tucker and helping out on Adebayo, I don’t see how he could also then be a large part of the offensive game plan. You can get Harris under 18.5 at -105 on Fox Bet.
Sixers vs. Heat Game 1 Betting Pick
When asked about the game 1 gameplan, Doc Rivers said the Sixers offense will center more around James Harden. This is the obvious choice, as Harden has more playoff experience than the rest of the Sixers options. However, when you think of James Harden lead teams, what do you think of? Fast paced offense and virtually no defense. To me, this kind of game bodes well for the Over (208.5). Both teams are playing at an over pace in the playoffs (each team has gone over in 4 of their last 5 games), and these injuries and matchups lead me to think that pace will continue.
The Sixers losing Joel Embiid is obviously a huge blow to their offense, but him not on the court does allow them to play at a much faster pace. I’m also looking for Spolstra to take advantage of some perimeter mismatches that will increase Miami’s pace as well. Herro and Robinson, when in the game, will present matchup issues for the Sixers. I think this is most evident by their last round series against the Raptors where players like Gary Trent Jr and OG Anunoby each took turns having break out games.
Using OddsJam, I found great value on an alternate over, only giving up half a point and at even money. I’m looking at Over 209 total points at +100 at Fox Bet.
Pick: Sixers/Heat Over 209 | +100 at Fox Bet
Sixers vs. Heat Game Heat Prediction
To me, the biggest matchup in this game won’t happen on the court; it is between Doc Rivers and Erik Spolstra. Who do you trust to create the better game plan and get his guys in the best positions possible to succeed? In my opinion, Spo wins that matchup by a long shot. I’m certainly not counting the Sixers out for the series. And truly believe they could steal a game in Miami while Embiid’s out, but I don’t see that happening in game 1. I see Miami’s depth being a huge advantage for them in this game. Spo will mix up different looks at Harden and flash different lineups to counter the Sixers Embiid-less gameplan. The Sixers experience and talent will keep them in striking distance in the game. But ultimately, the Heat’s barrage of depth shooting and ability to attack the lane with Embiid will prove to be a deadly combo in game 1.