Guard Jimmy Butler chose not to remain with the Sixers and instead opted to head to South Florida and join the Heat last summer in a sign-and-trade move. This will be Butler's first game back in Philadelphia with an opposing team.
"You know, I got to do what was best for me, my family and my people," Butler said. "So I got to do what made me happy. And like I tell everybody, I'm happy. I'm not going to pick nowhere where I'm not going to be happy. And this place, it works, it fits for me."
The surging Heat improved to 11-3 with a 116-108 road victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday, their fifth consecutive win. Butler led the way with 27 points and seven assists while shooting 12 of 13 from the foul line.
Kendrick Nunn added 21 points, and Bam Adebayo had 16 points and 14 rebounds to help oust the Bulls. However, the second leg of the back-to-back will be a much more daunting challenge against the Sixers.
It will also hold special meaning for a number of Heat players who will be seeing former teammate Josh Richardson for the first time. Richardson, however, has missed the past two games with a right hip flexor strain, and his status for Saturday was uncertain. He changed teams as part of the four-team Butler trade in the offseason.
"I mean, it will be a little weird," Adebayo said. "He might accidentally pass me the ball. But it's going to be a good matchup, just out there, playing against your brother. He came from this, so we kind of know how he plays and he knows our schemes. So it just depends on how everybody feels."
The Sixers will look for their fourth consecutive victory overall as they aim to improve on a 6-0 home record. They defeated the visiting San Antonio Spurs 115-104 on Friday behind Tobias Harris' 26 points and Joel Embiid's 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Ben Simmons also came through with a triple-double consisting of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists. It was Simmons' first triple-double of the season.
Harris continued his improved play, shooting 10 of 16 from the field. More important, he was most pleased with the team's defense.
"It was flowing from our defense from the beginning of the game," Harris said.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown has said repeatedly since training camp that his team won't have trouble scoring. It will come down to defense and limiting turnovers.
The Sixers are still a work-in-progress despite being unbeaten at home.
"We need to be better defensively, because we can be," Brown said. "There are things with the offense that take time, and I'm prepared to be patient and try to fix spatial things more than anything.
"It's not like it's a magic bean, space in pick-and-rolls, space on posts, space in early offense, it's space. So you go over to the defensive side and say, 'Well, you lead the NBA in fewest threes, but they make quite a bit when they do shoot them,' so I'm going to something global: We (had) better be better defensively."
--Field Level Media