A look at how the Heat are preparing for the unique game of Sixers point guard Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers dunks the ball past LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on April 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Cavaliers 132-130. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

It’s difficult to prepare for a 6-foot-10, 230-pound point guard.

Simulating what Ben Simmons does is almost impossible. A guard with the size of a forward who didn’t make a 3-pointer and took 88.1 percent of his shots from inside the paint in the regular season, while also rebounding and passing his way to 12 triple-doubles.

How did the Heat impersonate Simmons while preparing for Saturday’s Game 1 of their series against the Sixers? 6-foot-7 forward Derrick Jones Jr., who is not eligible for the postseason roster as a two-way contract player, took on the role of Simmons in Friday’s practice in Miami and 6-foot-9 assistant coach Juwan Howard acted as Simmons in Saturday morning’s shootaround in Philadelphia.

“You have to face him competitively first and foremost,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Simmons, who averaged 14.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists in four regular-season games against Miami. “He’s a special talent. Things will be decided in between those four lines. You have to deal with him with a great deal of respect and then you have to compete and our guys understand that. There’s a lot of things he does that are not scripted. That’s why it comes down to competition and finding a way.”

Howard played 19 seasons in the NBA as a power forward before joining the Heat’s coaching staff prior to the 2013-14 season. He averaged 13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists during his NBA career.

“Juwan could still play,” Spoelstra said when asked about Howard playing the role of Simmons on Saturday. “He could still play 8 to 10 minutes. I say that all the time. He and [assistant coach] Chris Quinn still take the body fat test and they will take that to their grave I’m sure. They’re ready to roll.”

When the real game starts Saturday night, the Heat are expected to rotate between 6-foot-6 Josh Richardson, 6-foot-7 Justise Winslow and 6-foot-8 James Johnson as Simmons’ primary defender.

“I just try to watch as much film as possible on him and see if I can make my teammates better,” Jones said of simulating Simmons in practice. “Just trying to attack as much as possible, getting them as much prepared as we need to be.”

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