The 76ers had been 14-0 at home, including a 113-86 victory over the Heat last month.
Tobias Harris buried a 3-pointer for the Sixers with 25.5 seconds left that made it 106-104 and they had sudden life when Nunn missed twice at the free throw line. Al Horford, though, missed an open 3-point attempt from the wing and the Heat escaped in a thriller.
Joel Embiid, who missed Sunday’s rout by the Nets with an upper respiratory illness, had 22 points and 19 rebounds. Harris scored 20 points.
Jimmy Butler scored 14 points for the Heat and was pretty much a non-factor until late in his second game back in Philadelphia.
Butler was soundly booed the first few times he touched the ball and continued to get jeers throughout the game. He played 55 regular-season games for the Sixers last season, averaging 18.2 points after being acquired in a trade with Minnesota last November. He helped Philadelphia beat Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs before the 76ers were eliminated in the second round by Toronto.
Butler left Philadelphia in the offseason, signing a $142 million, four-year deal with the Heat in a sign-and-trade that brought Josh Richardson to Philadelphia.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Butler has been a perfect fit for a team trying to return to the playoffs after missing them last season.
“I feel like I’ve coached a lot of guys like Jimmy that are adults, that are very serious about winning, about the process of winning,” he said. “Ultra competitive. He’s a max player. We wanted a max player, someone that would fit our culture and our system. Someone that would share our values and I think you’re seeing that kind of affect with that kind of player. There’s very few of them on this planet. That’s why we went after him so aggressively.”
Richardson did his part late, hitting a 3 that made it an eight-point game and one more that made it 101-97 and sent another packed house into a frenzy. With a perfect home start still within reach, the 76ers coughed up the ball to Miami — and Butler crushed them with an assist on a 3 from Derrick Jones Jr. that gave the Heat needed breathing room.
Butler sank two free throws with 33.9 seconds left, toying with the 76ers to the end.
Heat: Nunn hit four of Miami’s 12 3-pointers.
76ers: Butler struck a friendship with Embiid and remained a fan of the All-Star center. “That dude, he’s real,” Butler said. “He does everything well. He’s a true generational talent.”
HE SAID IT
“Gregg Popovich and Pat Riley.” 76ers coach Brett Brown on how to build a generational franchise like San Antonio and Miami.
Heat: Host the Knicks on Friday.
76ers: Play back-to-back home games Friday against Dallas and Saturday against Washington.