Published January 13, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat successfully opened defense of their title with a win and will now pay a visit to the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night.
The Heat raised their third NBA title banner and received their rings Tuesday night, then handed the Chicago Bulls a 107-95 setback behind 17 points from reigning NBA MVP LeBron James. James led seven players in double figures, while Chris Bosh and Shane Battier netted 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers scored 13 points apiece for the Heat, who shot 51.4 percent from the floor and made 11-of-20 3-pointers.
"We're a complete basketball team. There is no pressure for us to go out and perform. We move the ball offensively and have a lot of guys that can make plays. That is what we're about, guys picking each other up," said James.
Ray Allen and Norris Cole each had 11 points off the bench for Miami.
The Heat will also visit the Brooklyn Nets on their east coast trek.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are pegged to finish with one of the worst records in the NBA this season and have a new head coach in Brett Brown. Brown is taking over for Doug Collins and understands this will be a rebuilding process.
"We all know the pain of the rebuild is real," Brown said at his introductory press conference. "There needs to be patience."
Jrue Holiday is gone, but Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes are back and represent the nucleus of the team. During the draft, Holiday was dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Nerlens Noel, probably the No. 1 pick in the draft had he not torn his ACL in the winter. Noel, though, is not expected to play this season.
Fellow rookie Michael Carter-Williams has promise at the point, but has a lot to learn at this level.
"Can you imagine if we can get this thing right? If we can get this right with the culture and the history that this city has and the pride and the toughness that this city has, that is very alluring," said Brown.
Prior to the game the Sixers will announce the retirement of former superstar Allen Iverson. The prolific scorer and 11-time All-Star was the league MVP back in 2001 and is a fan favorite by many.
"He played like a 6-8 two-guard," James said of Iverson. "He was one of the greatest finishers we've ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever."
Iverson is Philadelphia's franchise leader in 40-point games (76) and 3- pointers (885) and is second behind Hal Greer in points (19,931). He is currently 19th on the all-time scoring list with 24,368 points.
The 76ers lost all four games against Miami last season and are winless in the past 15 meetings between the teams. The Heat have won seven in a row in south Philly.