Heat-76ers Preview

The Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers are wondering what it will take to get proper recognition after beating a pair of Eastern Conference heavyweights.

A rare win over the Miami Heat could do the trick.

Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia seeks a fifth straight victory when it hosts Miami on Friday night.

The 76ers (16-6) followed a 74-69 win over Orlando on Monday by knocking off East-leading Chicago 98-82 on Wednesday. They've won 14 games by at least 10 points and lead the NBA allowing an average of 85.9 points.

Only four of their wins, though, have come against teams with a record currently above .500, prompting some to question their solid start.

"'Who've you beat?' I heard that. 'Inferior teams,' I heard that," said coach Doug Collins, whose team is 12-2 at home.

Andre Iguodala, who scored 19 points and added nine rebounds versus the Bulls, has heard the grumblings, too.

"I don't think we've gotten the respect yet from the outside," Iguodala said. "We're starting to get there."

Collins praised Iguodala for having one of his better games of the season, narrowly missing his third straight double-double.

"When we needed him, he really made that huge spurt," Collins said.

Philadelphia also will need him against Miami, which has won 12 of the last 13 matchups including the postseason.

The Heat, who knocked off the seventh-seeded 76ers in the first round of last year's playoffs en route to the NBA finals, had their five-game winning streak snapped with a 105-97 loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Miami (16-6) led by 13 at halftime before being outscored 58-37 over the final two quarters.

"What that second half showed is we still have a long way to go as a ballclub just in terms of playing consistently," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We were playing very good basketball in the first half. It's a fragile game. In this league it can go the other way quickly if you're not staying consistent to your identity."

LeBron James scored a season-high 40 points - including 24 in the first to set an NBA high for most points in a quarter - and Dwyane Wade added 23.

"You always give credit where credit is due," James said. "They made some shots in the third quarter and fourth quarter. They got back into it. They made a run. We held it as much as possible."

The Heat didn't have much trouble building on a seven-point halftime lead in their 113-92 victory over the 76ers on Jan. 21 despite playing without an injured Wade.

Chris Bosh scored a game-high 30 points and James added 28 and nine rebounds for Miami, which prevented the 76ers from their first regular-season win over the Heat since an 85-77 victory March 15, 2009.

Philadelphia's only win during the Heat's stretch of dominance came April 24, when Louis Williams hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining to help it to an 86-82 win in Game 4 of the teams' playoff series.

Williams scored a team-high 22 points off the bench in the most recent meeting, while Iguodala was held to four points on 2-for-6 shooting.

Wade is averaging 30.3 points in his last six regular-season games versus Philadelphia.

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