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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the NBA Playoffs approach, the Philadelphia 76ers and their 14-game winning streak appear to be on a first round collision course with the Miami Heat.
While Ben Simmons and company have recently caught fire, they’ve always had Miami’s attention.
“We knew they was good,” said Heat guard Dwyane Wade. “We’ve had some battles with them in the four games we’ve played in total as an organization. So if it is them, we’ll have our work cut out for us.”
That matchup isn’t set in stone, with a couple of games left on the schedule for both teams.
Miami could also end up playing the Toronto Raptors or the Boston Celtics.
One thing does appear certain for the Heat though, and that is that Wade will be coming off the bench in the post season, a new role for the future hall of famer.
“it’s the first time doing it since I was in fourth grade,” Wade said. “The Olympics, the all-star game once. I always know with me being in the second unit, I always know that gives us a good chance and a good advantage some nights you know over opponents.”
Stepping into Wade’s starting spot this year has been Josh Richardson, who last saw playoff action in 2016 when he and Justise Winslow were rookies.
“I think I’m just overall more prepared for it then I was,” Richardson said. “I was just trying to figure it out it then and trying to get my feet wet. We still talk about the experiences then and how it’s going to be different to the younger guys.”
The younger guys he’s talking about are the Heat’s current stable of rookies, which includes last year’s first round pick Bam Adebayo, who head coach Erik Spoelstra says is gearing up for the big stage.
“He’s playoff ready right now and that’s the most important thing, for a 20-year-old rookie to gain meaningful game experience to where the staff and the players, his teammates, trust him,” Spoelstra said.
But first there’s some business at hand, with the Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder remaining on the schedule.
And just because the Heat have clinched a spot doesn’t mean the players can get too much rest, which is a notion OKC can respect.
“You know their team is going to come out hard and compete and give everything they have,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “I think they’re playing all their guys because it’s the best thing for their team.”
“We wouldn’t want a cake walk tonight because that’s not necessarily what we need,” added Thunder star Paul George.