NBA playoffs: Sixers to face Miami Heat in first round

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Dario Saric and the Sixers will face Miami in the opening round of the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2012.

The 76ers will face the Miami Heat in the opening round of the 2018 NBA playoffs.

Game 1 of the Best of 7 series will begin Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers (52-30) are the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed after Wednesday’s 130-95 regular-season finale victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at home.  Meanwhile, the Heat received the sixth seed by defeating the top-seeded Toronto Raptors, 116-109 in overtime.

The winner of the Sixers-Heat series will face the winner of the series between the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics and No. 7 seed Milwaukee in the second round.

The Sixers take a franchise single-season record 16-game winning streak into their first playoff appearance since the 2011-12 season. The Sixers and Heat split their four regular-season meetings with Miami winning the final two. The Sixers won the two games at home and lost the contests in Miami.

The Sixers had no answers for Hassan Whiteside in the teams’ last meeting back on March 8.

The Miami center had a game-high 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting in the 108-99 victory. He also finished with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.

Whiteside dominated from the start, making his first four shots. His fourth basket gave the Heat a 14-7 cushion with  8 minutes, 6 seconds left in the first quarter. Whiteside went on to score nine of his points in the first quarter.

However, the Heat better hope the Sixers cooled off from Wednesday night.

They shot 72.7 percent on three-pointers in the first quarter en route to leading the Bucks, 46-18.  They went on to take commanding 41-point lead (70-29) after Dario Saric’s four-foot floater with 5 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second quarter.

The home squad took a 80-44 lead at intermission. The 80 was a floor record for points scored in a half.

They did this damage minus two of their starters – Joel Embiid and JJ Redick.

This marked the eighth consecutive game Embiid has missed after fracturing the orbital bone near his left eye and suffering a concussion against the New York Knicks on March 28.

Meanwhile, Redick was a late scratch with lower-back tightness.