The Philadelphia 76ers heard jokes and predictions for months about how they’d be lucky to win 10 games. One of those Sixers wins certainly couldn’t come against the Miami Heat on Oct. 30, since the Sixers could never beat the Heat when they were respectable. Of course, the Sixers had to go ahead and upset the champions by 114-110 anyway, getting them off to a bad start with their so-called tanking.
The Heat sat out Dwayne Wade, but didn’t appear to need him to beat the supposed worst team in the NBA this year — if not of all time. The Sixers proved them wrong by starting out on a 26-4 run, but in typical Heat fashion, they woke up to cut their deficit to two by halftime. When Miami scored 45 points in the third quarter to go up by nine, it looked like business as usual after all.
However, the Heat only had enough left to score 14 points in the fourth, while the Sixers did some waking up of their own. Spencer Hawes put them ahead for good with a three-pointer and a layup, capping off a night where he was one of three Sixers to score more than 20 points. The others were the embattled Evan Turner with 26 points, and rookie Michael Carter-Williams with 22.
In fact, Carter-Williams fell just one steal and three rebounds short of a quadruple-double in his NBA debut, although he settled for nine steals, seven rebounds and 12 assists. As one of two rookies who are supposed to make Philadelphia’s rebuilding project worth it in the long run, Carter-Williams set the bar even higher for Nerlens Noel when he debuts sometime next season.
The bar is set even higher for the Sixers, who are still unlikely to have a moment like this for their next 81 games. Even if they do come close to losing 70 games, they will still have this rare victory over the Heat to show that this rebuilding can pay off.
Of course, everyone expects it to pay off with losses and a chance to grab Anthony Wiggins in next year’s draft — and in regard to that effort, Philadelphia lost by winning. Is this a sign that the Sixers can’t really win even if they get surprise wins?