Heat vs 76ers Picks and Predictions: Harden Won't Beat the Heat Tonight

The 76ers may be locked into their playoff spot in the East, but pride is still on the line in this national broadcast game with the Heat. However, our NBA betting picks think James Harden will fail to live up to the moment.

Rory Breasail - Betting Analyst at Covers.com
Rory Breasail • Betting Analyst
Apr 6, 2023 • 09:33 ET • 4 min read
James Harden Philadelphia 76ers NBA
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After a wild Wednesday night in the NBA, a few teams are finally, officially locked into their playoff seeding. One of them is the Philadelphia 76ers, who will face off against a Miami Heat team that seems likely to finish in the seventh spot, but for whom nothing is guaranteed just yet. With the ability to host a home play-in game on the line, Miami should come to play tonight on Thursday, April 6.

But just because the 76ers can’t move up the standings doesn’t mean that they’re just going to lie down either. This game is nationally televised on TNT, and Joel Embiid might want to run through the tape strong to close out his NBA MVP campaign. 

Our NBA picks and predictions for Heat vs. 76ers believe the Miami defense will prove a stiff challenge for James Harden.

Heat vs 76ers best odds

Heat vs 76ers picks and predictions

While the play of Joel Embiid will determine the playoff ceiling for the Philadelphia 76ers, the play of James Harden might ultimately prove just as decisive. Because while one can expect that Embiid will come through in the playoffs, Harden has a lot of work to do to win over skeptics and get Philadelphia where they want to go.

Harden has been rightly praised for his work as a playmaker in Doc Rivers' offense this season, and the naysayers who thought his career was over following a desultory close to the playoffs last season were emphatically proven wrong. Harden had an argument as the biggest snub to the All-Star team this season, and has a strong case to make third-team All-NBA.

But that does not mean this is the same old Houston Rockets Harden. Hell, this isn’t even the Brooklyn Nets Harden. Harden has done as fine a job in gracefully transitioning to a supplementary star role as anyone could have asked, but the physical changes to his game are now undeniable. Only 25% of Harden’s shot attempts are coming at the rim this season (per Cleaning the Glass), by far a career low, and an indication that the physical decline is well underway.

Harden now has more trouble getting separation than at any prior point in his career. While he’s still in the upper echelon of isolation scoring efficiency (85th percentile per Synergy), he’s forced to pick his spots in ways he wasn’t before. It was against this very Miami Heat team that he turned into a pumpkin at the end of last playoffs after all, and though that was in part due to injury, he isn’t the first All-NBA guard that the Heat have taken out of the game with their combination of physicality, switching, and ball-denial.

Harden is averaging 16.6 points over his last 10 games, and has eclipsed 20 points in only three of those 10. With Miami among the best in the game at forcing opposing guards into uncomfortable positions (and the very real possibility that Harden doesn’t play a full game with playoff seeding locked up), I like this Under more than any other bet on the board.

My best bet: Harden Under 19.5 points (-110)

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Heat vs 76ers spread analysis

The 76ers are coming off a true Embiid masterpiece against the short-handed Boston Celtics on Tuesday. Embiid finally got the better of Boston, all it took was 52 points on 20-of-25 from the field. Embiid’s utterly dominant play papered over what was a lackluster outing by many of the 76ers’ role players during what has been a relatively poor stretch for Philly overall.

Philadelphia is just 3-4 over the last two weeks, with a -4.6 point differential. Unsurprisingly, that’s translated to them underperforming the spread by 3.3 points in that same span. With Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton both questionable and the 76ers locked into the third seed, the path for a Heat cover is certainly there.

But outside of Jimmy Butler, Miami has just not shown the requisite desperation down the stretch. They’re now just 1-5 against the spread in their last six on the road, and 3-10 ATS on a single day of rest. Perhaps even worse is their aversion to prosperity. The Heat are a miserable 1-8 ATS in their last nine games following a straight-up win by more than 10 points.

Heat vs 76ers Over/Under analysis

Miami finds itself in a strange stretch. Their offense has been pretty much putrid all season long, but as Butler has ramped up the intensity over the last few weeks, they’ve played above the level of a Bottom-10 offense for the first time all season long. But that has been outweighed by an utter collapse defensively.

The Heat, one of the defensive stalwarts of the NBA, have played to the level of the 24th-ranked defense over their last seven games. The wear and tear seem to have finally caught up with them, which has contributed to the Over cashing in five of the Heat’s last six games played on one day's rest. 

With the real possibility that Bam Adebayo is unavailable for Thursday, or makes an appearance in a limited fashion, that defense could plumb new depths against an Embiid-led offense.

Philadelphia hasn’t played to nearly their standard on either end in recent weeks either. And relying on any one player is not a sustainable path to offensive success.

Heat vs 76ers betting trend to know

The Under is 9-1 in the 76ers’ last 10 games playing on one days’ rest. Find more NBA betting trends for Heat vs. 76ers.

Heat vs 76ers game info

Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Philadelphia, PA
Date: Thursday, April 6, 2023
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET

Heat vs 76ers key injuries

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