Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers Player Prop: New Series, Same James Harden

The Philadelphia 76ers take on the Miami Heat in the second round of the NBA Playoffs tonight. NBA and player prop expert Gray Gutfreund is here to give his best NBA player prop for the game. He's eyeing 76er James Harden tonight.
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Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers Player Prop: New Series, Same James Harden

James Harden has had quite a rocky start to the 2022 postseason. His level of play has always taken a hit from the regular season to the postseason throughout his career, but this year has been next-level bad. Since his Houston days, Harden averaged 28.6 points per game on 52.4% EFG. However, his playoff numbers during the same stretch are just 27.2 PPG on 49.9% EFG.

The former Rocket has now posted just 15.7 PPG over his last ten playoff games, making this the worst stretch of playoff basketball he's ever played. Despite Joel Embiid's absence, this makes for a perfect spot to fade Harden in a brutally tough matchup against Miami.

Heat vs. 76ers Game 1 Start Time and Where to Watch

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where to Watch: TNT

Click Here for Heat vs 76ers Game 1 Odds

Heat vs. 76ers Line Movement

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Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers Game 1 Player Prop Pick

James Harden Under 25.5 Points (-112) (Bet $112 to win $100)

*Odds Available at FanDuel at Time of Publishing*

Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers Prediction

This line is legitimately set two or three points too high for James Harden. He failed to score more than 22 points in any of his six first-round games, where he scored just 19.0 PPG. He's remained below this 25.5 over/under in 21 of his 27 games as a Sixer, averaging only 20.6 PPG.

These numbers come with the caveat that Harden is yet to play a game for Philadelphia without Joel Embiid on the floor with him. However, Embiid's absence shouldn't warrant a 25.5 line in a playoff game, compared to the 20.5 line that books have been hanging with both guys active.

Dating back to his time with Brooklyn this season, The Beard cashed this under in 29 of 44 games, averaging only 22.5 PPG. And, he performed far worse against the Heat, specifically. Harden has faced off against the Heat three times over the last two seasons. Needless to say, he struggled mightily in these contests. He put up just 15.3 PPG across the trio of games, failing to top 20 points in any of them. That shouldn't come as a surprise after Miami stone-walled Trae Young in their first-round matchup just last week.

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Here's how Miami has fared against some of the league's best guards this season:

  • Trae Young: 28.4 PPG this season, 19.9 PPG in 9 games vs. MIA
  • Luka Doncic: 28.4 PPG this season, 27.0 PPG in 2 games vs. MIA
  • Kyrie Irving: 27.4 PPG this season, 20.0 PPG in 2 games vs. MIA
  • Ja Morant: 27.4 PPG this season, 20 PTS in 1 game vs. MIA
  • Devin Booker: 26.8 PPG this season, 24.5 PPG in 2 games vs. MIA
  • Stephen Curry: 25.5 PPG this season, 9 PTS in 1 game vs. MIA

The Heat allowed the fewest points to opposing point guards of any team in the league this season, and their defense is peaking at the right time. Plus, Harden isn't anywhere near the scorer he used to be, which means he's clearly worse than all of the guards listed above.

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Miami posted a 102.3 defensive rating in Round 1, the 2nd-best of the 16 teams that played postseason basketball. And, these squads both ranked in the bottom six in Pace of Play this season. Everything points to a slow-paced defensive battle, which does not look good for Harden's chances of scoring more than 25 points this evening. Fade The Beard!

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Gray is a massive New York sports fan, and is an NBA & NFL oracle. He’s a passionate writer with a strong background in statistics, and loves putting out player props! You can follow him on Twitter @PropBetGuru.

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