Sixers' Ersan Ilyasova to get start at center in Game 2

Heat 76ers Basketball
Ersan Ilyasova will start at center in Game 2 after creating matchup problems for the Heat in Game 1 on Saturday.

The 76ers will start Ersan Ilyasova at center tonight against the Miami Heat in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.

The Sixers are going with Ilyasova over Amir Johnson, who started the past nine games in place of injured all-star center Joel Embiid.

This move comes after the Heat couldn’t combat the Sixers’ starting Ilyasova at center to begin the second half of Saturday’s Game 1. He was a matchup problem as Philly spaced the floor and neutralized Miami’s big man, Hassan Whiteside, who played just 12 minutes, 26 seconds.

Ilyasova finished with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in the third quarter. He collected 17 points and 14 rebounds for the game.

The 6-foot-10 sharpshooter re-signed with the Sixers on Feb. 28 after having his contract bought out by the Atlanta Hawks.

The Sixers have gone 21-3 since his acquisition, winning their last 17 games.  He’s averaging 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds in his second stint with the team.

The Turkish player had a lot of success with the Sixers last season after being acquired on Nov. 1, 2016, from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with a 2020 first-round draft pick, for Jerami Grant. Ilyasova averaged 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and shot 35.9 percent on three-pointers in 53 games, including 40 starts, with the Sixers during the 2016-17 campaign.

However, he was in the final season of his contract and wanted his next deal to be for multiple years. The Sixers were willing to give him only a one-year deal for the 2017-18 season. Unable to reach an agreement, the team traded him to the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 22, 2017, with a 2017 second-round pick, for Tiago Splitter and two 2017 second-round picks.