MIAMI — The 76ers will tell you game results are inconsequential at the moment.
With the Eastern Conference’s third seed for the playoffs clinched, they’re focused on resting players and staying healthy in the final two regular-season games.
So, it didn’t raise an eyebrow when starters Joel Embiid and JJ Redick and reserve Mike Scott didn’t play in Tuesday night’s 122-99 loss to the Miami Heat.
The Sixers (50-31) had a starting lineup of Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Jonah Bolden, Ben Simmons, and Zhaire Smith, making his first career start.
The Heat (39-42) and their sellout crowd of 20,153 could have cared less about the Sixers sitting out players. They were too busy celebrating Dwyane Wade in the final home game of his 16-year career.
And the Sixers probably won’t get any complaints from the Wells Fargo Center crowd on Wednesday night for resting players. Simmons and Harris will not play in the regular season-finale against the Chicago Bulls. Sixers coach Brett Brown also doesn’t expect Embiid, Redick, or Bolden to play.
“You can sort of see the method to the madness,” Brown said. “Everybody’s different.”
Some teams like to have a rhythm going into the playoffs. Other squads, like the Sixers, prefer to take some time off.
“I don’t think you can anoint the perfect formula,” the coach said. “I think it’s very individual. But the notion of trying to deliver the team, land the plane ... that will happen. That will happen.”
But that doesn’t mean Brown is confident that 10 games with the complete starting unit on the court is enough to prepare the Sixers for the playoffs. He wished they had more games together, especially considering that Tuesday’s game was the 27th since Harris was acquired at the trade deadline.
Embiid has missed 13 games since the All-Star break with tendinitis in his left knee. Butler was sidelined three games with lower-back tightness and another to rest. Simmons was sidelined a game with a stomach virus, while Redick missed Tuesday’s game with lower-back tightness.
“Like you wished there was more opportunities,” Brown said. “But for the reasons that we all know, there just wasn’t. So, life moves on. As I said, nobody is crying about it."
The Sixers will try to bond in the postseason. Their goal of reaching the NBA Finals remains intact.
“But it would be naive for all of us to think those 10 games are going to completely serve us well,” Brown said. “We are going to need a little bit of momentum and some luck. I believe the group can do it.”
Against the Heat, reserve center Greg Monroe paced the Sixers with 18 points. Simmons added 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, with four rebounds and one assist in 21 minutes. He sat out the fourth quarter.
Harris had 6 points on 3-for-16 shooting, with nine rebounds. Butler added 4 points on 2-for-5 shooting. They sat out the second half.
Bolden left the game in the second quarter with left-knee soreness and didn’t return. He didn’t score a point while missing all three of his shots.
Smith had 11 points in 29 1/2 minutes of action, both career highs. This was just his fifth game of the season. The shooting guard didn’t see his first game action until March 25, after suffering a broken left foot and an allergic reaction to something he ate .
“It was like a regular, old game,” Smith said. “I was just thinking back to what I went through. I was like, dang. Me and coach were talking about that before the game, ‘The stuff you been through and now you are starting. You put in the hard work.' "
Before the game, Smith thought about laying in a hospital bed. He never envisioned playing this season, let alone getting a start. But, on his night, he even guarded Wade.
“It was amazing,” Smith said. "I’m going to remember this the rest of my life. If somebody asks, ‘What’s the best rookie experience you had,’ I’m probably going to say this game. It’s great guarding him.
“He was hitting shots, tough shots.”
This night was all about Wade, who had a game-high 30 points.
There were several video tributes by family remembers, friends, and even President Obama before and during the game. Former teammate Chris Bosh and singer John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, were in the crowd, and Legend did a music video tribute to the 13-time All-Star.
Wade exchanged jerseys with Butler, a close friend and former Chicago Bulls teammate, after the game.
“It was special, man, to see my brother get as much love as he deserves,” Butler said. "You know, one of the greatest to play this game. I’m just happy that he gets to go out on his terms.
“He’s healthy. He’s smiling. He has the whole city behind him. I know he, at least, had one person on our bench behind him. And I’m just happy to be able to witness that one more time.”
Brown said the tributes were a reminder of Wade’s true legacy. The coach said he has tremendous respect for the shooting guard.
Simmons grew up a fan of Wade in Australia. So it was special for the point guard to compete against him in his final home game.