MIAMI (AP) — For Philadelphia, the season finale was about what’s coming next year. For Miami, it’s about what’s coming next week.
And really, nothing else mattered.
Thaddeus Young scored 20 points, Michael Carter-Williams had 12 in the final game of his impressive rookie campaign, and the 76ers wrapped up a dismal season by topping the Heat 100-87 on Wednesday night — their second win of the season over the two-time defending NBA champions.
Brandon Davies had 11 points, while Henry Sims, James Anderson and Casper Ware each scored 10 for the 76ers (19-63).
Dwyane Wade scored 16 points in 23 minutes for Miami (54-28), which got 13 from Toney Douglas and 11 from Ray Allen. Shane Battier scored nine points and eclipsed the 30,000-minute mark in his regular-season career.
The Heat — who came into the night locked into the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs — rested LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen, and found out before the game that their quest for a third straight NBA title opens Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Their first-round opponent: Charlotte.
Miami went 4-0 against the Bobcats this season, though one was a one-point game and another went to overtime. And since Miami landed James and Bosh, the Heat are 15-0 against the club now owned by Michael Jordan, a guy who knows a thing or two about three-peats and whose jersey was retired long ago in Miami as a show of respect.
“They play with an unbelievable motor and they have a great system that fits their team very well,” Wade said earlier this week when asked about the Bobcats. “They’re a tough team to play. They’re going to compete — very hard.”
The last time Miami and Charlotte met was March 3, when James scored a career-high 61 points.
Wednesday’s game was decided in the third, when the 76ers outscored the Heat 29-15. Miami missed 11 of its 16 shots in the period, and Philadelphia closed the quarter on a 13-3 run.
By then, Wade had played 23 minutes in one last tuneup, and the Heat seemed perfectly content to get the second season started.
Philadelphia finished with the league’s second-worst record, but has the expected rookie of the year in Carter-Williams and could have as many as seven picks — two of them out of the lottery — in this year’s draft.
In short, the year was bleak.
The future shouldn’t be in Philly.
“The relief that the season has ended truly does not creep into my mind because it’s trumped by the excitement that I see going forward,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “I’m so excited to watch the direction of ping-pong balls. I’m so excited to watch what we do with our summer leagues. I’m excited to watch our practice facility ultimately be built. … I see the foundation. I hope it’s something real.”
Brown said it was a season where he wanted to emphasize fitness and start building a culture when it comes to professionalism in terms of absorbing scouting reports, weight-room sessions and studying video.
He thinks all that was accomplished.
“I feel like the things that we’ve been able to put in place, I’m proud of,” Brown said. “I think things that don’t come out in a win-loss column when you read the newspaper allows me to say at times I get excited because I think I know something others may not. I feel like we’re heading in the right direction. I hope we can get some luck with the draft and move our program forward.”
NOTES: It was Fan Appreciation Night in Miami, and Battier addressed the sellout crowd in a brief pregame ceremony. “Let’s go Heat and let’s go get this ring,” said Battier, who was playing in what’s almost certainly the final regular-season game of his career. … Brown, who was an assistant with San Antonio before taking the 76ers’ job last summer, plans to fly there Thursday night to visit with Gregg Popovich and the Spurs’ staff. … Greg Oden returned to the Miami lineup, his first appearance since March 26 because of back issues and more recently, a stomach virus.
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