The Heat got their rings and the first win of the season last night, a thrilling 107-95 victory over their Eastern Conference rivals, the Chicago Bulls. Their second game will be slightly-less significant as they travel to Philadelphia to take on a young Philadelphia 76ers team in their season opener. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 P.M.
There are low expectations for the 76ers, a team that Las Vegas experts expect to win a total of 16 games. With a new head coach, Brett Brown, and a new backcourt (rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams and shooting guard James Anderson, formerly of Houston), Philadelphia is a team without an identity.
Filling out the starting lineup are Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes. All three veterans will likely be the subject of trade rumors throughout the season as Philadelphia actively looks to unload salary commitments for future draft picks. Though clearly overmatched, look for this young 76ers team to play a loose, free-wheeling style. Carter-Williams, an athletic 6’6” swingman with good shooting range, has promise but will be adjusting to a handling the point guard position at the professional level.
In addition to seeing the Heat’s star-studded lineup, the Philadelphia faithful will bid a fond farewell to longtime Sixer Allen Iverson. Although out of the NBA for the past three years, Iverson will officially announce his retirement at tonight’s game. Greatly respected by fans and players alike, when the player known as “The Answer” greets the crowd, expect to hear the loudest cheers of what will be a long, difficult season.
Will the Heat be able to keep focus against a lesser opponent?
…while it’s easy to play inspired against the Bulls, finding the same motivation to take on the 76ers will be difficult. Miami has relied on their ability to turn it up a notch in the past. Let’s see if that will be necessary in Philly.
Will Wade play in back-to-back games?
…Wade’s play was spotty last night and he might need some rest before the Heat’s next game (Friday at Brooklyn). Let’s see if this early test sets the standard for the rest of the season.
To tank or not to tank?
… the 2014 NBA Draft is expected to be rich in talent and Philadelphia is definitely in rebuilding mode. With the Sixers’ 2013 NBA Draft pick Nerlens Noel potentially out for the season, their young nucleus will get some much-needed experience in the hopes of being competitive next season and beyond.
If you’re planning on being in Philadelphia, make sure to grab Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers tickets for Game 2 of the Heat’s regular season!