The Sun Sentinel interviewed the anonymous scout, who pointed to two specific reasons why the Heat would do better against the Sixers.
“You’d rather play Philadelphia,” the scout said. “Their depth isn’t as good. They’re very, very reliant on James Harden, and he’s been extremely up and down.”
The scout then explained why the potential matchups are also favorable for the Heat’s hopes of advancing to the 2023 NBA Finals.
“[76ers center Joel] Embiid is a given,” said the scout. “How is Bam [Adebayo] going to do against him? As well as anybody. He’s going to get his 29. But Harden is defensible. Miami’s got a bunch of guys who can guard him. And they’re too dependent on him. And then the rest, [Tyrese] Maxey is great. But you’re seeing what’s happening with Tobias Harris. When it counts, he’s a no-show.”
In regards to individual players on the 76ers, the scout believes that stopping Harden is more important than controlling Embiid, the new league MVP.
“No, I think Embiid is a given,” said the scout. “I think it’s Harden. You’ve got to stop Harden. He scores, they win. Their fortunes have strictly depended on him. Look at the Boston series, when he’s good, they’ve been good. When he doesn’t show up, they don’t show up.”
The Heat’s opponent will be decided after the Game 7 matchup between the 76ers and Celtics on Sunday afternoon. That series has seen many twists and turns, with the Celtics staving off elimination on Thursday night in Philadelphia.
That clutch victory sent the series back to Boston, which might ordinarily be seen as a positive for the Celtics. However, the Sixers pulled off a huge upset in the series opener at TD Garden on May 1 and then jolted them there again on Tuesday with a convincing 115-103 win.
During Heat-76ers matchups in the 2022-23 regular season, road teams were dominant. On all three occasions, the visiting team came away with a victory, with two of the games ending in blowouts.
Against the Celtics, the Heat split four regular season matchups, winning once at home and in Boston. In the Dec. 2 clash in Boston, the Heat managed to come away with a 120-116 win.
Should the Celtics end up defeating the 76ers, the two conference finals matchups in this season’s playoffs will offer a bit of deja vu. That stems from the fact that three years ago, the Heat battled the Celtics in the East while the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers dueled in the Western Conference.
That came inside the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Fla. during the 2019-20 season. There were no fans or home-court advantages for teams.
Those circumstances aided the Heat as underdogs, though they ended up falling in the Finals in six games to the Lakers.
Regardless of who the Heat end up playing, they’re enthusiastic about continuing a season that at times seemed like it would end with either no postseason or a quick exit.