Tyrese Maxey gives keys to attacking Heat zone, lessons from playoffs past

CAMDEN, N.J. — As the Philadelphia 76ers continue to prepare to face the Miami Heat in the 7 vs. 8 play-in game on Wednesday at home, there is a focus on plenty of factors for Philadelphia.

One of them is to find ways to attack Miami’s zone defense. The Heat are a team that historically has employed the zone defense in an effort to slow teams down and it has given them an edge at times. It’s a key reason why Miami is a top 5 defensive team.

With that being said, Tyrese Maxey and the Sixers will have to find a way to attack it.

“They know their principles and they stick to their principles,” Maxey said on Tuesday at practice. “You gotta be able to attack the zone. The zone is made to slow you down, make you think. You gotta get in the gaps and find somebody to flash in the high post and get somebody in the dunker spot and it becomes easier to beat.”

A zone defense can be a bit confusing at times if a team is not ready for it. Especially, for a Miami team that switches between zone and man-to-man on plenty of occasions. The Heat will send their wing players higher toward the half-court line which is much higher than a normal zone defense.

Combine that principle with the length and defensive IQ they possess and it makes the Heat a very tough team to attack and score on.

The Sixers and the Heat matched up in the postseason in 2022 and Miami used the zone defense to slow Philadelphia down on plenty of occasions. Maxey remembers that series and there have been lessons for him to learn from heading into this play-in situation.

“I learned a lot,” Maxey said of the 2022 postseason. “I think every time in the playoffs, you learn something. No matter if you win or you lose, you always learn. I think I learned a lot from that series and I took it into last year’s playoffs and this year’s postseason.”

That series with the Heat, as well as the other postseason experiences, has helped him become a better player. It’s one of those things where experience really does come in and play a factor. That will help Maxey heading into the contest with Miami as well as the upcoming playoff run.

“For sure,” Maxey added. “I definitely do. I definitely do. I think every playoff series has made me a better player, honestly. There’s so many different mind games and so many different inside games you see every single day and not just the whole series, but game by game and the way they adjust. It’s really cool.”

Tip off with the Heat is set for 7 p.m. EDT on Wednesday to determine the No. 7 seed in the East.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire