Philadelphia (28-41) at Miami (31-37)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Miami, FL
Temp: 90° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sat Mar 20, 2004
  • TV: WBFS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

In danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in six years, the stumbling Philadelphia 76ers go for their second consecutive season sweep of the Miami Heat.

The 76ers, who haven’t missed the postseason since 1997-98, have the worst record of the six teams fighting for one of the Eastern Conference’s final three playoff spots. They stand 11th in the East with 13 games to play.

Now Philadelphia tries to avoid going winless on a four-game road trip, having already lost to Detroit, Memphis and New Orleans.

“I definitely think it’s slipping away from us,” Sixers guard Allen Iverson said. “We’re not mathematically out of it. You’ve got to feel like you have a chance.

“We’ve just got to go out there, I guess, and fight even harder to get wins.”

One of the teams the Sixers are batting for a postseason berth is the Heat.

Philadelphia has won all three games this season with Miami after taking all four last season. The Sixers have lost just twice in the last 16 meetings, including five straight wins in Miami.

Iverson, who missed the Sixers’ 87-76 home win over the Heat on Dec. 17 because of sore right knee, averaged 30.5 points in two games against Miami this season.

The NBA’s second-leading scorer, however, is struggling. Averaging 26.4 points this season, Iverson has totaled just 30 on 12-for-38 shooting (32 percent) in the last two games.

The All-Star guard sat out the team’s previous four games—three because of a swollen right knee and the other after refusing to play in a reserve role at Detroit on Sunday.

“I’m trying to find the rhythm out there on the court,” Iverson said after Wednesday’s 104-80 loss at New Orleans. “Even though if I struggle with my shooting … hopefully just playing hard will be enough to get us through. But that hasn’t been the case the last two games.”

The Sixers have gone 2-12 on the road since a 92-86 win over the Hornets on Jan. 21.

Miami is shooting for its season high-tying fourth straight victory following Tuesday’s 96-83 home win over New Orleans.

The Heat, who reeled off four straight wins from Feb. 11-21, have won six consecutive home games. It is their longest home win streak since a nine-game run during the 2000-01 season—the last time they made the playoffs.

Rookie Dwyane Wade led the Heat on Tuesday with 23 points, and Caron Butler added 20 points and seven rebounds.

Butler, a second-year forward out of Connecticut, has averaged 19 points in his last two games after scoring just 5.5 a game in his previous four.

“Caron’s energy level is extremely high,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I think when you focus on going out and playing hard, the rest of the game comes. It’s coming at a good time, too.”

STANDINGS (through March 18): 76ers - 5th place, 14 GB, Atlantic Division. Heat - 2nd place (tied), 10 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: 76ers - F Aaron McKie, F Kenny Thomas, C Samuel Dalembert, G Eric Snow, G Iverson. Heat - F Butler, F Lamar Odom, C Brian Grant, G Wade, G Eddie Jones.

TEAM LEADERS: 76ers - Iverson, 26.4 ppg; Thomas, 10.2 rpg; Snow, 6.9 apg. Heat - Jones, 17.6 ppg; Odom, 9.9 rpg; Alston, 4.5 apg.

SEASON SERIES: 76ers, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 17; 76ers, 87-76. At Philadelphia, Iverson sat out with a sore knee, but the Sixers shot 57 percent (35-for-62). McKie made four 3-pointers and finished with 20 points for Philadelphia. Wade led Miami with 22 points.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: 76ers - 11-25 on the road; Heat - 23-12 at home.

INJURIES: 76ers - C Amal McCaskill (back); C Todd MacCulloch (foot); F Glenn Robinson (elbow). Heat - C Loren Woods (back); F Jerome Beasley (back); G Bimbo Coles (back).

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