NBA 2020-21: Who goes furthest in the East?

Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid jostle for position during a Heat-76ers regular season game

With the marathon 2019-20 NBA season in the books and the Los Angeles Lakers crowned champions for a record-equalling 17th time, thoughts turn to the 2020-21 season and the teams best placed to make deep playoff runs.

On the season’s final edition of Heatcheck, Sky Sports’ weekly NBA debate show, regulars BJ Armstrong and Mo Mooncey were asked for their takes on the 2020-21 potential of a selection of heavyweight Eastern Conference teams, including beaten NBA finalists the Miami Heat.

Who goes furthest: Heat or 76ers?

Will the Philadelphia 76ers or Miami Heat go further in the playoffs next season? Mo Mooncey offers his insight

Mooncey: The obvious choice here would be the team that made it to the NBA Finals rather than the team swept away in the first round of the playoffs, but having said that, I am going to throw a wild card here and say the 76ers.

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Miami (could potentially) lose Goran Dragic, their leading scorer in the playoffs, who is a free agent. They can re-sign him but I personally don’t think he will stay.

The Heat caught a lot of teams by surprise. I don’t think anyone was expecting Tyler Herro to go off for 30 points in playoff games, or that Duncan Robinson would have such a great season or Kendrick Nunn to come out like this (in his rookie season). Teams are going to be better prepared for the Miami Heat. They have made themselves a target and I don’t know if they will be able to replicate what they have done.

Doc Rivers has been named head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers – what will he bring to the role?

With the Sixers, I have a little bit of hope. Making Doc Rivers your coach… if you want to play Ben Simmons at the point guard spot, Doc Rivers has previously won a championship with a point guard who didn’t shoot three-pointers. Back with the Boston Celtics in 2008, Rajon Rondo did not shoot any threes.

In terms of that comparison with the 2008 Celtics, you are also talking about a big man shooting from the perimeter in the way Kevin Garnett did for that team. In that role for the 76ers, you have got Joel Embiid. I am not comparing the two as players, just their roles. Both can score from the block and from the perimeter.