Coming off a disastrous season in which they were decimated by injury, the Miami Heat enjoyed a blowout win in their home opener.

The Philadelphia 76ers haven't treated last season's lottery teams very kindly.

Having beaten a pair of non-playoff teams by an average of 31.5 points, the Sixers will look to keep up that dominance Wednesday night in Miami while looking for their fifth straight win against the Heat.

Philadelphia (2-2) expected the offseason addition of Elton Brand would boost a team that finished seventh in the East into the upper echelon of conference contenders this season.

The Sixers have lost both of their games against playoff squads from 2007-08, so any potential ascension remains to be seen. Philadelphia hasn't had any problem facing the conference's lower tier so far, however. The Sixers shot 59.1 percent from the field in a 116-87 win over New York on Friday, and after a loss at Atlanta the next night, came back home to pound Sacramento 125-91 on Monday, putting eight players in double figures and shooting 59.2 percent.

"It was a great game for us," coach Maurice Cheeks said. "With the way we shot the basketball, running the floor, and getting out on the open court, that's the way we have to play. We can't sit back on our heels."

The biggest development for Philadelphia was its improved outside shooting. The Sixers had gone just 13-for-41 (31.7 percent) from beyond the arc in their first three games, but made 10-of-13 from 3-point range in the win over the Kings.

Brand has double-doubles in three of four games, averaging 17.5 points and 11.8 rebounds, and four Philadelphia starters are averaging at least 12.0 points. But the Sixers are also getting strong contributions from their bench, which is averaging 36.0 points - tied for fifth in the NBA.

After earning just 13 minutes combined in his first three games, Kareem Rush came off the bench and went 4-for-4 for 10 points in 13 minutes on Monday.

"This is what I do,'' said Rush, who's with his fourth team since 2004-05. "That's what they brought me here for. That's what I can bring to this team. Hopefully I can find a way to get some regular time, crunch time, instead of blowout games.''

Miami (1-2) also has enjoyed a lopsided win over Sacramento, a 103-77 victory on Friday, putting six players in double figures in its home opener. In two road games, though, the Heat haven't fared nearly as well. They gave up 120 points in a loss to the Knicks, then let Charlotte shoot 53.6 percent in a 100-87 loss on Saturday.

Guard Dwyane Wade, working his way back from a knee injury that cost him 31 games last season, is shooting 14-for-39 (35.9 percent) in Miami's two losses.

"It's called growing pains. It's going to happen,'' Wade said. "Coach (Erik Spoelstra) said we're going to take one step backward, but then hopefully we'll take two steps forward."

Despite the loss to the Bobcats, the Heat got the best game in the young career of rookie Michael Beasley, who went 10-of-16 for 25 points. Yet despite Beasley's offensive spark and a healthy Wade, Spoelstra feels the Heat won't go far if they don't work on the other end of the floor.

"Our identity right now is to be a defensive team first,'' Spoelstra said.

Wade is averaging 26.4 points in his career against Philadelphia, including a career high-tying 48 on April 14, 2005.

Miami's last win over the Sixers came on Nov. 27, 2006.


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