Playing the Miami Heat just got tougher.
The Heat, who play host to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, feature a pair of 2020 All-Stars in 6-7 shooting guard Jimmy Butler and 6-9 center Bam Adebayo. Point guard Goran Dragic, a 2018 All-Star, is a key member of Miami’s bench brigade, and Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro are legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates.
But on Saturday night, when Adebayo had a poor shooting performance (1 of 8), 7-foot power forward Meyers Leonard stepped up and contributed 18 points and 14 rebounds. It was just his second double-double of the season — the other one was less impressive with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was a night where the ball was finding my energy,” Leonard said of his performance on Saturday.
Leonard shot 7 of 14 overall, including 4 of 9 on 3-pointers, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did not seem surprised.
“Everyone in our locker room wants Meyers to be more aggressive,” Spoelstra said. “He really worked on it the past couple of days in practice — letting it fly, almost past his comfort zone.”
Certainly, Butler is still the straw that stirs Miami’s drink. The five-time All-Star leads the Heat in scoring (20.3), assists (6.3) and steals (1.8).
Herro, who scored 23 points off the bench on Saturday while making 6 of 10 3-pointers, is Miami’s big gunner off the bench. He is fifth on the team in scoring (13.4).
Adebayo leads the Heat in rebounds (10.5) and blocks (1.2) while averaging 15.7 points and 4.7 assists. And even when he had his off night shooting on Saturday, Adebayo still managed 14 rebounds, five assists and a season-high four blocked shots.
Meanwhile, the 76ers will be facing a couple of negative trends on Monday. While they are 22-2 at home, they are just 9-17 on the road, which is the obstacle they will face on Monday. The Heat are 21-3 at home.
In addition, Miami is 2-1 against Philadelphia this season, including two straight wins with one of them on the road.
Overall, the 76ers have lost three of their past five games, including Saturday’s 116-95 defeat at the Boston Celtics.
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons scored a team-high 23 points in that game, but center Joel Embiid made just 1 of 11 shots.
“He’s not going to have that kind of night very often,” Simmons said of Embiid, who was held to 11 points. “He’s an unreal player. We have the utmost respect for him.”
So does the rest of the league. In fact, Simmons and Embiid are both All-Stars this year. The last time the 76ers had two All-Stars was 1988 — Charles Barkley and Maurice Cheeks.
Embiid leads the 76ers in scoring (23.0) and rebounds (12.1). Simmons leads the team in assists (8.2) and steals (2.2) while averaging 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Other Sixers of note are wing Tobias Harris (19.3 points) and power forward Al Horford (12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds).
Key injuries for the game include a couple of wing players: Justise Winslow (back) for Miami and Josh Richardson (hamstring) for Philadelphia, and neither one is likely to play on Monday.
Richardson, averaging 15.0 points, is a former Heat draft pick and standout who came over in the multi-layered Butler trade this past summer.
–Field Level Media