MIAMI -- The game may have appeared meaningless, but don’t say that to Sixers head coach Brett Brown or the players in his locker room.
With their 100-87 victory over the shorthanded Miami Heat on the final day of NBA’s the regular season, the Sixers closed out the year on a two-game winning streak (see Instant Replay).
During a season in which they endured a brutal 26-game skid to tie the NBA record for consecutive loss, the Sixers will gladly take any win they can get their hands on.
“We went out there and played as a team, played collectively and had fun playing basketball,” Thaddeus Young said after the Sixers finished the season 19-63, the third-worst record in franchise history.
With the Heat already locked in as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, they decided to rest stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
However, the Sixers weren’t able to take advantage of those absences until the third quarter. They outscored the Heat 29-15 during the frame and held Miami to just five made baskets in extending their four-point halftime lead to 18.
The Sixers increased their advantage to 21 points before allowing the Heat to dwindle it down to seven. But the Sixers made the right plays down the stretch to hold on for the win.
“To their credit, they found a way to navigate through that without me having to call a timeout,” Brown said. “I thought the energy that those guys came out with to end their season the way that they did confirms the character I have said they have from day one. They found a way to stay together and play hard most nights and tonight they did that.”
Michael Carter-Williams didn’t have the best shooting night (3 for 10), but he still managed to leave an imprint on the game. He scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.
Overall, Carter-Williams finishes his first professional season averaging 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals a game, all tops among rookies.
MCW wasn’t the only Sixer to have a strong year. Thaddeus Young averaged a career- and team-high 17.9 points per game.
Not to mention a host of other Sixers that bounced around or were viewed as castoffs who spent all season proving they could play at the game’s highest level.
No matter what the public ends up remembering about this particular Sixers team, those within the locker room are just happy everyone remained a tight-knit group throughout the struggles.
“We kept playing with each other and really stuck together, which I think is great,” Carter-Williams said. “It takes a lot of character to do that, to not give up and let the season get out of hand. I applaud my teammates and coaches for that.”