The top-seeded Miami Heat stand in the way of the Sixers’ first appearance in the conference finals in 21 seasons.
With a 35-point Game 6 victory over the Raptors on their third try, the Sixers clinched a second-round berth on Thursday night.
Their series with the Heat will begin in Miami on Monday night. The schedule for the best-of-seven series is listed below. Game 4 and Game 7 start times, as well as television coverage, will be established after Game 3. (if necessary).
- Game 1: Monday, 5/2 at 7:30 p.m. in Miami (TNT)
- Game 2: Wednesday, 5/4 at 7:30 p.m. in Miami (TNT)
- Game 3: Friday, 5/6 at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia (ESPN)
- Game 4: Sunday, 5/8, in Philadelphia
- Game 5: Tuesday, 5/10 in Miami (TNT)
- Game 6: Thursday, 5/12 in Philadelphia (ESPN)
- Game 7: Sunday, 5/15, in Miami
The last time the Sixers and Heat met in the playoffs was in 2018. The Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons, averaged 18.2 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, 71.4 percent from the foul line, 10.6 rebounds, 9.0 assists, and 2.4 steals in his first career postseason series, which the Sixers won in five games.
Simmons was a vital component of the Sixers’ season despite not appearing in any games. After a long and tortuous journey, the Sixers dealt the 25-year-old to the Nets in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap and Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and draft picks.
The former teammate connection is particularly fascinating in this series with Jimmy Butler, who was a Sixer for 55 regular-season games in 2018-19 before being traded to bring Josh Richardson to Philadelphia in a sign-and-trade. Butler, who is still friends with Joel Embiid, could not play in Miami’s series-clinching Game 5 victory over the Hawks due to right knee irritation. Kyle Lowry, a Philadelphia native and Villanova product missed Games 4 and 5 due to a left hamstring issue.
Harden’s second consecutive postseason matchup with P.J. Tucker, 36, is fascinating. When the Bucks scraped past Brooklyn in the playoffs last season, Tucker was the primary defender on Kevin Durant. He’s known for his toughness and in-depth knowledge of Harden’s game.
Even though the Sixers and Heat split their four regular-season games, none of them resembled what this series will be like. Following his Feb. 25 debut, Harden appeared in 21 of the Sixers’ 24 games, although he was ruled out of two March matches against Miami due to a “left hamstring injury management” designation. Both games were back-to-backs on the second night. When the Sixers pulled off an unexpected shorthanded win on March 21, Embiid (back soreness) was also missing.
After having surgery in December to repair a ruptured ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, Bam Adebayo, a lock to make his third straight All-Defensive team at 24 years old, was sidelined for the two pre-Harden Sixers-Heat games. Embiid is now the center with a ruptured thumb ligament, but he expects to play through the injury for the rest of the playoffs. Though Embiid will face a lot of double teams, and the Heat’s zone defense has given the Sixers fits in the past, the individual battle between Embiid and Adebayo will be crucial.
This season, the Heat had an East-best 29 home wins, including a 3-0 win against Atlanta in the first round at FTX Arena. Meanwhile, the Sixers have a conference-best 27-14 road record and are coming off a convincing close-out win in Toronto.