MIAMI - They rose as one, 13 strong, and exhaled before walking into the visitors' locker room.
As the final seconds ticked off on one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the 76ers went full circle with a 100-87 victory over the shorthanded Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday.
They opened the season on Oct. 30 with a thrilling upset of the Heat at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers (19-63) followed that up with victories over the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls to start the season at 3-0. Six month later, they capped the season with consecutive wins, beating the Boston Celtics on Monday and dispatching the Heat (54-28), who rested starters LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Mario Chalmers and reserve Chris Andersen.
But that was just the beginning and ending of the roller-coaster season, which went off the tracks to crash into a wall.
"Mentally, it's been very, very crazy," Sixers power forward Thaddeus Young said.
The craziness was expected.
The team didn't hide the fact that it would sacrifice wins to get a top pick in June's NBA draft. The Sixers are guaranteed a top-five selection by finishing with the second-worst record in the NBA. They also have a 19 percent chance of getting the top pick in the lottery.
But, in the process, the Sixers became the laughingstock of the NBA two seasons removed from being one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals.
There was a 13-game road losing streak, followed by a four-game winning streak over the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and Portland Trail Blazers - all on the road.
There were the back-to-back road losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors by a combined 88 points. And who can forget the 26-game losing streak that matched the record for consecutive losses by a U.S. pro team?
And there were the 28 players on this season's roster at one time or another. Six of those players were on 10-day contracts. Two others - Danny Granger and Earl Clark - never played a game.
"It was kind of rough building relationships with some guys, and they are gone one day," shooting guard James Anderson said of the revolving roster. "That's just part of the business, stuff that you have to get used to."
On Wednesday, Young finished with a game-high 20 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in what could be his last game as a Sixer. He is slated to make about $9.1 million next season and has a player option worth a little less than $9.8 million with the Sixers for the 2015-16 campaign.
The Sixers could try to trade Young this summer.
"Me personally, I wouldn't want to discuss anything until after June," he said of talking to coach Brett Brown and general manager Sam Hinkie about his future. "This has been a crazy season. Of course, I will have to sit down with Brett and Sam during my exit interview.
"As far as anything else being said, I probably don't want to sit down until after the draft."
Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams finished with 12 points. He made 3 of 5 three-pointers after not attempting any threes in the previous six games.
"It's just been a long grind, a lot of ups and downs," said Sixers swingman Hollis Thompson, who finished with three points. "I think we all continued to learn each other and continue to play with each other.
"It's been a lot of fun."
The 76ers spent an average of $2.86 million per player this season, the lowest total in the NBA, according to ESPN The Magazine.
The Sixers figure represents a 41.6 percent drop from last season, according to the Sportingintelligence Global Salary Survey.
The team signed six players to 10-day contracts this season.