Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers NBA Pick for December 18

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We have 10 games on the NBA schedule on Wednesday night. This Eastern Conference showdown between the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat may not have the tightest spread or the highest over/under, but it should be fun to see a pair of high-end contenders going toe-to-toe.

The 20-8 76ers are currently occupying the No. 2 spot in the conference, while the 19-8 Heat are sitting fourth. This will be the second meeting of the season between the teams. Back in November, Miami got absolutely buried in their first trip of the season 113-86 in a game that was never close. The Heat were a little shorthanded that night due to injuries, but it was certainly a statement game for the Sixers.

The teams will meet tonight amid similar circumstances. Joel Embiid is listed as probable to play after missing the Sixers’ most recent game due to an illness, but the Heat will be without key contributors in Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic. James Johnson is away from the team dealing with a personal matter, while Dion Waiters is still serving his third suspension of the young season. Derrick Jones Jr. is also listed as questionable with a migraine.

The Sixers are sizable 8-point favorites at MyBookie. The game opened Philadelphia -6.5, and it has a fairly low implied total of 209 points.

Betting Data Heat 76ers
2019 Straight-Up 19-8 20-8
2019 Home 11-1 14-0
2019 Away 8-7 6-8
2019 ATS 17-9-1 12-13-3
2019 ATS Home 10-2-0 7-5-2
2019 ATS Away 7-7-1 5-8-1
2019 O/U 15-11-1 12-15-1
2019 O/U Home 8-4-0 5-8-1
2019 O/U Away 7-7-1 7-7-0

Jimmy Butler’s Revenge

The 76ers came close to breaking into the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kawhi Leonard sent the Raptors through instead. That wound up being the last moment of Jimmy Butler’s brief but eventful tenure in Philadelphia. The All-Star swingman instead wound up inking a lucrative contract with Miami over the summer.

The Miami Heat didn’t have enough cap space to take Butler on without shedding other salary, so the Sixers were able to nab a useful replacement in Josh Richardson via sign-and-trade. Butler struggled in his first trip to Philadelphia as a member of the Heat, but he has otherwise been everything Miami could have possibly hoped.

Through 23 games, Butler is averaging 21.2 points, 6.8 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game. He has had to do a little bit of everything for Miami as the Heat have been forced to navigate injuries to key playmakers like Dragic and Winslow. Butler has probably played more point guard than Miami envisioned when he first signed, but thus far he has been up to the task and then some.

The issue is that his supporting cast has been anything but consistent. Kendrick Nunn has given Miami strong production, but his shooting comes and goes with each passing game. Duncan Robinson has been a pleasant surprise, but you’re probably not going to be a very good team if Duncan Robinson is your second-best player on some nights. Tyler Herro has endured consistency issues, as is the case with just about every rookie.

The Robin to Butler’s Batman to this point has been Bam Adebayo, who is quickly becoming one of the game’s best young centers. Adebayo is the team’s full-time starting center for the first time after the team dealt Hassan Whiteside over the summer. The Kentucky product is producing 15.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and just under 5 assists per game. He has also defended well, averaging 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks.

The issue with this matchup is that Adebayo is listed at 6’9” and 255 pounds. Adebayo can defend your average center, but Embiid is far from that. The 76ers’ big man has about 5 inches and 35 pounds on Bam. Adebayo is a smart enough defender to hold his own, but Miami lacks the size to truly stop a unique player like Embiid.

76ers Staying the Course

Philly has dealt with their own injury issues. Embiid has missed some games. The same can be said about Al Horford, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson. All 5 are reportedly good to go tonight, though, and they’ll be needed. Philly is far from the deepest team in the league, which means Brett Brown has to rely more heavily on his starters than most coaches do.

Embiid put 23 points and 11 rebounds on the board in just 26 minutes of action in the 76ers’ aforementioned 113-86 blowout of Miami last month. Richardson, who has been a bit shaky with his new team, enjoyed his finest game of the season at the expense of his old club. J-Rich scored a season-high 32 points on blazing 11-for-15 shooting from the field, including 6-for-7 from 3-point range.

This should be an interesting game considering neither team has a deep rotation. If Jones sits for Miami, Erik Spoelstra may have no choice but to run a 7- or 8-man rotation. Jones played 31 minutes in the last game. If he’s out, Spoelstra may have to run Butler, Nunn, Herro and Robinson all out there for upwards of 40 minutes in this one.

The Pick

I have a hard time seeing how a skeleton Heat crew can keep up with a full-strength Sixers squad on the road. We saw Miami struggle to stay with a ragtag Grizzlies team a couple of nights ago under similar circumstances. There is a lot of public money backing Miami, but the sharp money is currently favoring the 76ers in this one. There’s a reason the line has been pushed from Philly -6.5 to Philly -8 since it opened.

I think the Sixers cover the spread at home and win this one fairly easy.

Bet on the 76ers to cover the 8 points on Wednesday night.


76ers -8


Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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