First up in rough Sixers season: The Heat

The King and his court: LeBron James and the Miami Heat will be on a mission to threepeat, an NBA feat last accomplished by the 2000-02 Lakers. The health of Dwyane Wade and the fatigue factor could come into play.
The King and his court: LeBron James and the Miami Heat will be on a mission to threepeat, an NBA feat last accomplished by the 2000-02 Lakers. The health of Dwyane Wade and the fatigue factor could come into play. (BILL HABER / Associated Press)
Posted: October 31, 2013

The 76ers will face an immediate challenge as they begin what is expected to be an arduous and painful rebuilding process. Up first on the schedule are the two-time defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat.

Miami, which opened its season Tuesday at home against the Chicago Bulls, christens the Brett Brown era when the Heat visit the Sixers on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Brown was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs last season. Miami beat the Spurs in seven games in the NBA Finals.

"Everybody knows my last time I saw them was a huge disappointment," Brown said after Tuesday's practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I feel like personally I am in a different place now and the hangover, residue of all that still exists a little, but not to the point where you think about it a lot."

Players on the young Sixers team approach the Heat game in different ways. Second-year guard Tony Wroten, 20, saw limited minutes last season with the Memphis Grizzlies. He says meeting the Heat in the first game with his new team is special.

"It doesn't get any better than that," Wroten said. "I am excited not only to have opening night but to have it against the back-to-back champion. What better game could it be?"

Evan Turner took a more reserved approach. When asked if he would scout the Heat against Chicago, Turner replied, "I know the scouting report. I have played them 30 times in the last four years, so whatever."

Actually, Turner has played the Heat 11 times in his first three regular seasons and had five more games against Miami in the 2011 playoffs.

Turner won't go in with awe, but with an idea of what needs to be done against LeBron James and company.

"They are seasoned vets with a lot of experience and you have to be alert on all things," Turner said.

Stopping James, who has been the NBA's MVP in four of the last five seasons, is the biggest challenge in the NBA. In 33 career regular-season games against the Sixers, James has averaged 27.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.9 assists.

James and the Heat bring a certain excitement not matched in NBA arenas. The Sixers also will close the regular season against the Heat on April 16 in Miami.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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