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 for 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).
“We stuck together,” Young said. “We did a very good job of staying together, playing as a cohesive unit. Sometimes the odds were stacked against us but we didn’t let that get us down.”
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 — in his final season barring a seismic change of heart — scored nine points and eclipsed the 30,000-minute mark in his regular-season career.
“Couldn’t be more proud of my guy,” Battier’s wife, Heidi Battier, wrote on Twitter.
Her husband half-seriously talked about the milestone with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra earlier in the day.
“If you had told me when I was a little boy that one day you’re going to play 30,000 regular-season NBA minutes, I’d have said ‘Get out of here,'” Battier said. “Even at 35, 13 years in, the novelty of playing in the NBA and living my dream is still there.”
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, Rashard Lewis 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.
“That team competes very hard,” Wade said.
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’re a worthy, worthy opponent,” Spoelstra said of the Bobcats. “So we’ve got to get to work.”
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. By then, Wade had played 23 minutes in one last tuneup, and the Heat seemed content to get the second season started.
“Our record doesn’t show we had a good season but the main thing is we stayed together,” Carter-Williams said.
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.
This 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 see the foundation.”
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 that was accomplished.
“At times I get excited because I think I know something others may not,” Brown said. “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.”
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