As part of this year’s NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat are set to have the first of four scheduled clashes on December 15th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
But with a little over a month left until they meet, how is each team looking in the run-up?
The Season So Far
With the first couple of weeks of the 2021-22 NBA season fading into the past, how are things stacking up?
In general, the 2021-22 season has been filled with plenty of false starts, missteps, and drama — which isn’t necessarily anything unusual for this early in the season!
Some of this drama is due to some changes in how NBA matches are officiated, with a new crackdown on non-basketball moves that some players have used to try and draw contact. While some have heralded this move as the best thing since sliced bread, others have decried it for hampering in-game creativity and freedom of movement. Although the long-term effect of this change might take some time to reveal itself, it does signal that there will be some awkward interactions until things settle down. The most immediate effect we have noticed is a slight dip in the number of free throws being awarded.
Controversial rule changes aside, the team rankings themselves are already beginning to heat up. As it is still so early into the season and there remains so much to play for, there has never been a better time to lock in some NBA odds while there is a bit of uncertainty tipping the odds in your favor.
76ers and the Heat: A New Rivalry?
One future match-up that fans and analysts alike are keeping an eye on, however, is between the 76ers and the Heat.
Despite not having the same level of rivalry as, for example, the 76ers and the Celtics had in previous decades; some are beginning to view the Heat as the 76ers biggest opponents.
According to one account, this rivalry all stems back to the 2018 season when the 76ers forward Ersan Ilyasova angered Heat fans by implying that the stadium was empty when they faced each other. Although this was, of course, a largely false claim, it nevertheless proved to be a trigger for what looks set to become a long-standing rivalry.
For this reason, several NBA analysts have characterized this duo as one of the new NBA rivalries to look out for.
The Story So Far
In terms of where this rivalry now sits, since 1996, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat have played together in a total of 102 games. Of these, 92 games have been played in the regular season, while 10 games have taken place during the playoffs.
In their regular-season games, the 76ers have won 38 games to 54 games by the Miami Heat, which gives the advantage to the Heat by a sizeable margin. In their playoff matchups, the stats are perfectly even, with the 76ers and the Heat each having five victories.
It seems that in terms of their historic matchups, the Miami Heat tend to edge out the 76ers. But do things look set to play out this way in the upcoming season?
Miami Heat: 2021-22 Season So Far
Up from a ranking of 13th a few weeks ago and now firmly, if somewhat tentatively, in the first place, the Miami Heat has made a number of important upgrades to their opening lineup, which has scored some success in recent matchups.
Notably, the Heat has managed to outscore their opponents so far by a sizeable 43.3-point margin per 100 possessions in the first quarter. In the last four of their six games, the Heat has won the first period by double-digits. They are now 5-1 in their first 6 games and have just knocked the Utah Jazz off the power-ranking top spot.
Philadelphia 76ers: 2021-22 Season So Far
Currently, at 4-2 in their last six games, the 76ers are having a decent, if not somewhat sloppy season, so far.
Curry and Harris continue to be stalwarts of the 76ers line-up, with both players putting in consistently good performances so far this season.
The 76ers also currently boast the NBA league’s best offense. The team plays four of their next five games against teams also ranked in the top 10 for the offense. For this reason, we are certainly expecting fireworks going forward.
76ers vs Heat: What’s in Store for the December Showdown?
In terms of what the outlook is for the upcoming December 15th matchup, there is still far too much to play for in the season to say for sure. While the Heat has been putting in consistently good performances so far, this could all crumble over the next few games.
Similarly, while the 76ers are looking decent, if a little sloppy, there is no indication their success to date will continue.