The Miami Heat are looking very comfortable in their ongoing series against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat have taken a 2-0 lead over a Joel Embiid-less 76ers as Philly tries to make it work with a big-man pairing of Paul Reed and DeAndre Jordan. Naturally, that hasn't been working and the Heat haven't really felt a strong challenge as of yet.
Not having Joel Embiid is a near-death blow for the 76ers as his contributions carried the team all season long, through the Ben Simmons trade saga and through the James Harden adjustment period.
Embiid has been a loyal 76ers since he was drafted and clearly went out of his way to keep them competitive. Former teammate Jimmy Butler recognizes that and doesn't want a series win over Philadelphia with their best player unable to play due to injuries.
“I feel bad for my guy. My former teammate, arguably the MVP of this league. I think I speak for everybody that’s a part of this team, we want Joel to play. I hope he recovers well and gets back very, very soon.”
“Yup, I don’t see why not,” Butler said after the game on Wednesday night. “If he can. Health is always first and you know that’s my guy. I want to compete against him. I really do. I think they’re a completely different team whenever he’s out there on the floor, both offensively and defensively, so we’re looking forward to that.”
“I’m not a statistics or analytics guy, but I can tell you that when he’s on the floor they’re a much better team. Like I said, I want him to get right, because we want to play against who I call the MVP”
Miami wanting to play Embiid makes sense as no team wants to get the easy route out when they are as competitive as the Heat. Considering the success Bam Adebayo is having this series, Embiid would definitely add a wrinkle Miami will have to game plan for.
Embiid will look to return before the series ends and try to fight for his team, but that depends on whether it's worth him risking further injury and coming back after Game 3 for a series that may then end 4-1 instead of 4-0.