Philadelphia 76ers can still turn series back around against Miami Heat

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 14: Joel Embiid /

Despite losing Game 2, the Philadelphia 76ers still have plenty of time to turn this series around against the Miami Heat.

The Miami Heat shocked a scorching Philadelphia 76ers team imploring an ultra-physical defense on Monday by coming through with a 113-103 win to tie the series up at 1-1. After dropping Game 2 at home, the Sixers should be concerned, but hopefully the team can get their act together before Thursday’s game in Miami.

Watching Philadelphia struggle the way they did from 3-point range shows the effectiveness of Miami’s defense. Overall, the Sixers appeared rushed, uncomfortable, and unsure.

Following a Game 1 firework show from beyond the arc, in which Philadelphia produced 130 points, the Sixers only broke the century mark in garbage time during Monday’s game. Between poor defense along with shooting a horrendous 7-of-36 from 3-point range, it’s easy to see why Philadelphia lost the way they did.

What changed? How can a team who rolled through Game 1 look that poor at home against the same team in Game 2? In m opinion, one man from the Heat changed this series, and his name is Erik Spoelstra.

The Heat’s game plan was clear early on by ramping up the physicality to 110 percent in Game. They pushed the envelope, made it tough for the referees, and forced the Sixers into a discombobulated offense.

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Spoelstra’s plan proved magnificently effective. Justise Winslow slowed down Ben Simmons. Philly shooters struggled to find room and time to make jump shots. Not to mention, Spoelstra slowed the game down, which was a huge advantage for Miami.

As a Sixers fan, you have a right to be nervous. Brett Brown’s squad didn’t appear to have an answer for the Heat’s blue-collar defense. However, just as I said, as one man changed this series, another man’s potential return could turn the tide again.

Joel Embiid isn’t a normal basketball player. He changes everything. He changes his team, he changes the game, and he most definitely will have a massive impact on this series.

The Sixers have the formula to beat Miami, as they proved in Game 1. You may think the Heat have the formula to return the favor, but they do not my friends.

Beating the Sixers without Embiid is one thing, but defeating Philadelphia with their All-Star big is a whole other ball game.

The Heat will have to drastically change their game plan again in order to win another game in this series, let alone three more. The reason being is that now Philadelphia has an answer for the immense physicality shown in Game 2 if Embiid is able to return Thursday.

There will be more playoff games like a Monday night. The game slows down, referees let more go, and all of a sudden it’s a slug-it-out affair. But do you know what can turn those games your team’s way? An exceptionally talented post-player like Embiid, that’s what.

Having a post presence in these type of battles can dramatically swing the game one way or another. Embiid will be able to create his own, high-percentage shot from within 15 feet, as his shooter’s struggle to get through the stifling defense.

Hopefully, if Embiid plays during Game 3, the Sixers will not have to rely on the shooters creating their own space.

Embiid will open up that space naturally. Once Embiid gets going in the post, the defense will collapse, leaving open shots for his teammates.

Simply, Embiid acts as a safety blanket in these games. Even if the offense cannot create movement, a high-quality post shot will almost always be available. If the Heat take that away, perimeter shots will come easily.

Relative to the Sixers, the Heat moved free and easily on offense. Philadelphia’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Embiid will set the tone differently. Embiid moves like a center fielder underneath the basket, bailing his team out, allowing them to be more aggressive.

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It seems the recent success by the Sixers has blinded people to how much better they are with Embiid. It’s impossible to overstate Embiid’s incoming influence on this series. Whether it’s Game 3 or Game 4, it’s safe to say that whenever this shoe drops, the series will turn towards the Sixers, and they will advance to the second round.