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by Max Rappaport, Sixers.com
Posted: September 12, 2013

The final game in our countdown of the top contests included in the PHILA BIG Game Plan is coincidentally the first game of the Sixers’ 2013-14 season, an October 30 meeting with the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

The game marks the beginning of a new era of Philadelphia 76ers basketball – the first chance for Sixers fans to see the new members of General Manager Sam Hinkie’s roster and how first-year head coach Brett Brown plans to utilize them. For the Heat, this season marks their fourth of the “Big Three Era.” If they are able to secure another championship victory this season, they’ll join the Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls as the only teams NBA history to accomplish a championship three-peat.

In 11 regular season meetings since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach, the Sixers have yet to beat the Heat. With three games against one another this season and the looming potential of a Big Three breakup next summer (Lebron, Wade, and Bosh all have early termination options on their contracts next season), this could be one of the Sixers’ last opportunities for revenge. 

Heat Key Offseason Moves

While the Heat starters have remained fairly consistent since “The Decision” in 2010, Miami President Pat Riley has helped the top-heavy Heat fill out their rotation with solid role players, adding impressive depth to one of the most talented teams ever assembled.

Since uniting the big three, Miami has utilized the Mid-level Exception, which allows teams that are over the cap to sign one or more medium-priced free agents, in addition to veteran minimum deals to add three-and-d specialist Shane Battier, sharpshooter Ray Allen, defensive big man Chris Anderson, veteran forward Rashard Lewis, and, most recently, former first-overall pick Greg Oden to their bench. 

Oden was undoubtedly Miami’s most noteworthy acquisition this summer. The injury-plagued 25-year-old has not played since 2009 due to a series of knee issues. But three microfracture surgeries later, the seven-footer says he’s ready to reclaim a career that has been limited to just 82 games to this point. If the former first-overall pick can stay healthy, the size-deficient Heat will benefit greatly from his presence.

Other Moves: The team waived veteran swingman Mike Miller via the league’s Amnesty Provision and acquired Long Beach State product James Ennis (drafted 50th overall in 2013) via a deal with the Atlanta Hawks.

Projected Starters

Notables

• The Sixers catch the Heat on the tail-end of a home-road back-to-back. On October 29, the team hosts the Chicago Bulls to open their season. Then, the team flies up to Philadelphia overnight to play the Sixers on October 30.

• Last season, LeBron James became the first NBA player to ever average at least 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists while shooting over 55.0% from the floor. He averaged 26.8 points (56.5 FG%), 8.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game in 2012-13.

• The Sixers look to snap an 11-game losing streak since the LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the Miami Heat.

Last Time They Met: Sixers 87, Heat 106 – April 6, 2013

With Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh forced to miss the game due to minor injuries, the Sixers were able to hold Miami’s four starters not named LeBron James to just 26 points, but the Heat bench proved too much for Philly to handle. James scored 27 points to anchor a depleted starting five, while the Miami bench combined to score 53 points.

Five Sixers reached double figures, led by Jrue Holiday (18 points). Evan Turner added 14, and Spencer Hawes notched a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds). Dorell Wright and Nick Young each scored 10 off the bench.