Philadelphia (37-34) at Miami (49-22)

By JEFF BARTL, STATS Writer Thursday, Mar 24, 2011 Tipoff: 7:30 pm EDT Fri Mar 25, 2011

The Philadelphia 76ers won’t catch the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings, and they’re doing everything possible to avoid facing their trio of superstars in a first-round playoff matchup.

Miami’s recent dominance of Philadelphia furthers that notion.

The visiting 76ers continue their pursuit of the conference’s fifth seed Friday night and hope to end a six-game losing streak against the Heat.

Surprising Philadelphia (37-34) has rebounded from a 3-13 start to move into sixth in the East, 2 1/2 games behind fifth-place Atlanta after beating the Hawks 105-100 on Wednesday.

First-year coach Doug Collins, who took over a team which finished 27-55 in 2009-10, has remained humble regarding the 76ers’ resurgence but knew the importance of Wednesday’s victory.

“That was one of the most gratifying wins of the season,” Collins said.

Louis Williams(notes) scored 17 points to lead seven players in double figures for Philadelphia, which has won three of four. Andre Iguodala(notes) and Thaddeus Young(notes) scored 16 each. Iguodala, who has been bothered by right knee tendinitis most of the season, sat out Saturday’s 110-101 loss at Portland.

“We need this, but we have not made anything yet,” said Elton Brand(notes), who added 13 points and 11 rebounds. “We haven’t been guaranteed a spot. We still have games to go.”

If the playoffs started today, the 76ers and third-place Heat would meet in the first round, which may not bode well for Philadelphia.

Miami (49-22) has won six straight in the series and both meetings this season, though each victory came during the 76ers’ dismal start. The Heat won 97-87 in Philadelphia on Oct. 27 and 99-90 at home Nov. 26.

Miami is fighting for playoff positioning of its own. The Heat are 2 1/2 games behind East-leading Chicago and 1 1/2 back of second-place Boston after a 100-94 come-from-behind victory Wednesday against Detroit.

Dwyane Wade(notes) scored 24 points, Chris Bosh(notes) added 23 and LeBron James(notes) scored 19 with eight rebounds and seven assists as Miami needed a 15-0 run to begin the fourth quarter to overcome an 11-point deficit.

The Heat have won six of seven following their season-high five-game losing streak.

“We were getting our tails handed to us and it was humbling through three quarters,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There is no easy way in this league, there really isn’t.”

Miami was playing its first game without point guard Mario Chalmers(notes), who is expected to miss two weeks with a sprained right knee, and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes) (right foot infection). Mike Bibby(notes) made his first start in place of Chalmers and scored five points.

Wade scored 30 points in the first meeting against Philadelphia, then had a game-high 23 in the next meeting.

Iguodala scored 20 points in the November matchup. He averages 14.3 points in his career against the Heat, which is his second-lowest to only the 14.1 he averages against Houston.

The 76ers have lost five straight road games in the series since a 101-96 overtime win Feb. 23, 2008. They have dropped 11 of their last 13 visits to Miami.

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Friday, Mar 25