The Sixers (18-30) continue their four-game road trip against the white-hot Miami Heat (20-30) at American Airlines Arena (7:30 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Battered and bruised
The Sixers are limping into to Saturday night’s matchup in Miami. Literally.
Joel Embiid (left knee contusion), Robert Covington (right hand contusion) and Nerlens Noel (upper-respiratory infection) all missed Thursday’s 102-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Gerald Henderson, who has been battling a hip ailment, also received a DNP-CD in anticipation of the Sixers’ schedule picking up.
That left the Sixers with just nine healthy players against the Spurs. The lack of depth showed as the team was outscored 54-33 during the second half.
A banged-up team in the middle of a road trip isn’t the best recipe when considering the Heat are currently on a four-game homestand and will be plenty rested after not playing since Wednesday.
2. Too hot to handle
More important than the rest, the Heat are coming into this matchup against the Sixers on a mammoth roll.
Miami has won nine straight games, the longest streak in league history by a team that was at least 19 games under .500, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Those victories haven’t all come over lowly teams, either. The Heat knocked off the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors during this stretch.
“You’re going into someplace a little bit like Dallas,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said (see story). “Dallas, after you beat the Cavaliers and Spurs, you probably feel pretty good about yourself. Now you’re going to Miami. Any time any team wins nine games in a row in the NBA, they’ve got to feel pretty good about themselves.”
No one is feeling better about themselves than the Heat’s backcourt tandem of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters. The two guards have combined for an average of 44.9 points per game over the past nine games.
3. Step into the board room
With two of their top three rebounders dealing in Embiid and Covington dealing with injuries, the Sixers have been bludgeoned on the backboard the last two games.
The Sixers were outrebounded 51-39 in their loss to the Mavs on Wednesday as reserve center Salah Mejri grabbed a career-high 17. They followed that up by getting beat on the glass, 57-48, in Thursday’s loss to the Spurs as former Sixer Dewayne Dedmon hauled in 10 boards.
While those were tough tests, nothing will have prepared the shorthanded Sixers for dealing with Miami center Hassan Whiteside. The Heat big man leads the league in rebounding with 13.8 per game.
Whiteside pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds in the season’s first meeting between the two teams to go along with 32 points, and that was with Embiid in the lineup.
Noel (upper-respiratory infection) and Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) are listed as probable. Embiid (knee), Covington (hand), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.
Josh Richardson (ankle), Josh McRoberts (foot), Justise Winslow (shoulder) and Chris Bosh (calf) are all out for the Heat.
5. This and that
• The Sixers had lost five straight to the Heat before recording a 101-94 win on Nov. 21.
• The Heat can tie the Rockets for the second-longest win streak in the NBA this season with a victory on Saturday.
• The Sixers have committed 37 turnovers in the first two games of their road trip.