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NBA Atlantic: 76ers Hope to Stay Alive in Playoff Chase


The 76ers haven’t had much hope of making the postseason during the past couple of months, but with the eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks in a major slump, the door is still open – if only a crack – for Philly to slip through. However, to keep their slim hopes alive, they’ll have to knock off the league’s best team on the road today.

At 31-44, Philadelphia is still five games back of Milwaukee with just seven to play, meaning that the Sixers will likely have to win out and hope the Bucks’ recent struggles continue. And they’ll certainly find out what they are made of today against the Miami Heat, who have lost just four games on their home floor all season.

On the flip side, the Sixers have won just nine games away from home all year long. The odds and the numbers speak for themselves, but that doesn’t mean the Sixers can’t get the job done.

With first place in the East already locked up, the Miami Heat have switched to cruise control, resting their star players in recent games. The Heat have still managed to win two of the three games in which they have sat LeBron James and Dwyane Wade – who are both dealing with minor injuries – but there’s no doubt that Philadelphia’s chances of winning today skyrocket if King James and D-Wade end up sitting out again.

There’s no word on if that will be the case today, as the Heat seem to be making their personnel decisions day-by-day and game-by-game, but based on what we’ve seen lately from the South Beach crew, it may continue to keep its best players out of harms way until the postseason, especially against a team it is capable of beating with its reserves.

Philly is in for a tough game regardless, but since we’re not sure yet if James and Wade will suit up, we don’t have a point-spread on this one at the moment (be sure to check your favorite sportsbook later in the day). However, we can make our hypothetical lines based on each scenario.

If James and Wade do play, it will likely be a long day for the Sixers and it could spell the end of their playoff dreams. I would expect the Heat to easily roll Philly by at least 10 points if they have their best guys on the court. What is this spread based on you ask? The Heat have won all three of the previous meetings between the clubs this year and two of those games were by more than 10.

However, if James and Wade don’t dress for today’s game, then Philly has a shot. It will still be a hard fought game, as you can only imagine how little Miami’s reserves get to play and how hungry they’ll be to impress the home crowd. Still, it should be close either way. I like the Heat to prevail still, but only by a margin of two or three points, and I wouldn’t be that surprised if the Sixers pull out a win in desperation mode.

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