Heat vs. Sixers Game Thread: Joel Embiid active for preseason finale

Joel Embiid will play tonight, attempting to piece together two dominant efforts before the regular season.

Joel Embiid’s preseason debut Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets felt like a 15-minute whirlwind. In his first live action since Jan. 27, the 7-foot-2 leviathan unleashed rip-through jumpers, a dream shake leading into a Dirk-esque step back jumper, dishing to teammates in rhythm and sheer power en route to 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Embiid had Brooklyn’s bigs at his mercy, going 14-of-18 from the charity stripe in the 133-114 Sixers victory. Embiid’s influence was profound in brief three-to-four minute intervals.

He’ll have a prime regular season tune-up in dueling with Hassan Whiteside for a stretch. Embiid’s gravity should open up lanes and opportunities for Ben Simmons while neutralizing some of Whiteside’s rim protection. When the two operated a high-low Wednesday, Embiid’s man couldn’t excessively sag to help on Simmons’ mismatch. Embiid led Simmons to the basket with precession, and Simmons easily elevated at the rim off of two feet for a flush.

Cultivating synergy between the two before Wednesday’s opener will be a primary storyline for tonight’s game, in light of Embiid’s minutes restriction.

Projected Starters:

Philadelphia: Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Joel Embiid

Heat: Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside

Injuries:

Philadelphia: Markelle Fultz and Amir Johnson are reportedly out.

Miami: Goran Dragic and Rodney McGruder are reportedly out.

Five Notable Statistics:

Compliments of The Athletic’s Derek Bodner, Simmons is shooting 33 percent in the half court through four preseason games.

T.J. McConnell strengthened his preseason resume with a 10-point, seven-assist, four-rebound, three-steal outing Wednesday. He’s totaled four assists in every game thus far while providing consistent sparks off the pine.

J.J. Redick is a scalding 87.5 percent (7-of-8) from 3 through three games. His ability to shoot off of the dribble is a new dynamic Process Era Sixers shooting guards struggled with.

Jahlil Okafor likely soaks up Richaun Holmes and Amir Johnson’s minutes in their absence. Shooting an efficient 73.9 clip through four preseason games, Okafor’s finishing rather adeptly near the basket. However, his unacceptable defensive effort lingers.

Sticking with the base offensive stats theme, Nik Stauskas enters his final preseason outing shooting a frigid 19.2 percent (5-for-26). Furkan Korkmaz’s hive rejoices.

How to Watch/Listen:

Watch: NBC Sports Philly

Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic

Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO.

8:30 p.m. ET

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