76ers vs. Heat NBA Playoffs Game 1 Picks and Odds Breakdown

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The Eastern Conference semi-finals matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat has a lot of subplots. The biggest one is Joel Embiid’s injury which will keep him out of this NBA playoffs game. James Harden will have more pressure on him in this series than he has at any point in his career. Let’s break this game down further to see if the Sixers can hang with the Heat in this one. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat

Monday, May 02, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at FTX Arena

The spread for this game opened at Heat -4 at the NBA odds board. That number has jumped all the way up to -7.5 with the news that Joel Embiid will not be available. He suffered an orbital bone fracture at the end of the series against the Toronto Raptors.  

Most fans in Philadelphia are not too happy about it considering there was really no reason for him to be on the court when it happened. The Sixers were up 29 points with just under four minutes left to play when Embiid suffered the injury. 

Extra Pressure on Harden and Rivers

As if there wasn't already a ton of pressure on Doc Rivers, this is his worst nightmare come to life. Rivers is an NBA champion as a head coach but his playoff resume still leaves a lot to be desired. We don't need to go too in-depth here but the mere fact that he is the only coach in NBA history to blow three separate 3-1 series leads is impossible to ignore.  

Even in the last series, it took the Sixers six games to close out the Raptors despite going up 3-0 to start the series. 

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Rivers isn't the only one under a ton of pressure in this series. James Harden is one of the greatest offensive players in the history of the league. He's also come up small in the playoffs on several occasions in his career. While Harden wasn't terrible against Toronto (he averaged 10.2 assists per game) he wasn't great either.  

He averaged 19 points per game on 40% shooting which is not good enough by his standards. With all due respect to Oklahoma City and Houston (he wasn't in Brooklyn long enough to mention them), those places aren't Philadelphia. If Harden comes up small again with Embiid out, it will leave a big stain on his legacy. I'm not sure James Harden has ever been under more pressure in a playoffs series. 

Under Is the Play in This Spot 

One thing you have to give the Miami Heat is their will to win. They have the versatility that very few teams in the league have. They have several players that can step up and be the leading scorer on any given night. They also play championship-level defense which is the backbone of this team.  

Remember, most of this group played in the NBA Finals just two seasons ago so when it comes to playoff experience, this team has that in spades. In fact, if you look at the Sixers roster, most of them don't have much playoff experience to speak of, especially with Embiid unavailable. 

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My official NBA pick on this game is under 209.5 (-110) at BetOnline. Harden will have a clear advantage over some of the Heat wing players but if Jimmy Butler focuses his attention on him, that will be a show in itself over the course of this series.  

I have a really hard time seeing the Sixers score over 100 points in this spot without Embiid. Even if he was healthy, I'd still back Miami to win the series. I also like the under because Miami's offense isn't great so we could actually see this game go under 200 which isn't out of the question here. 

NBA Pick: Under 209.5 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Under 209.5 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.