© Reuters. NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Dallas Mavericks
The ineffective Philadelphia 76ers will attempt a four-game loss on Monday night if they host the tumbling Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Sixers (39-21) have just been swept up in two street games against the Milwaukee Bucks, including a 132-94 router on Saturday. Playing without Ben Simmons (illness) for the fourth year in a row and then having Joel Embiid (shoulder) scratch just before the tipoff was too much to overcome.
With both players working towards better health, coach Doc Rivers has started focusing on the upcoming playoffs. Rivers said Embiid, an MVP contestant, despite having missed 19 games so far this season, will be fine in the playoffs.
“You don’t normally play back-to-backs in the playoffs,” said Rivers. “They have a day off between each game so I’m not so worried. I think Joel has built up this year. I think he’s in better physical shape this year.”
With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Sixers will continue to battle for first place in the Eastern Conference. On the way to Sunday’s games, they were one game behind the Brooklyn Nets in first place and 1 1/2 ahead of the Bucks in third. But health, not a playoff seed, is of the essence.
“We just have to get better for the last couple of games on the track and get on the pitch together and find out,” said Sixers’ Seth Curry. “It’s a tough season. A lot of teams are going through a season right now. But every time we step on the ground we have to use that to get better and try to get wins on the track. Health is the most important thing.” Thing.”
Rebuilding Thunder (20-40) doesn’t think of playoffs as they try to find a way to end a loss in 13 games in hopes of breaking the franchise record of 14 straight losses set in their inaugural season (2008) could not be achieved.
In their last game on Friday, they were throttled between 129 and 109 at home by the Washington Wizards. Theo Maledon and Darius Bazley each scored 20 points, while Isaiah Roby and Lu Dort each added 18 points.
“We have to keep getting better and see the positive things,” said Maledon. “We’re having a tough time right now, but I think it will help us in the future to make sure we play our best basketball and do our best to have our chance of victory.”
Due to trades, injuries and inexperience, the Thunder will be understaffed for the remainder of the season. Oklahoma City best player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot) is unlikely to return in the last 12 games.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said he had seen at least some improvement over the back half of the losing streak and described some of the team’s recent defeats as at least competitive.
“We scratched and scratched,” said Daigneault. “We did a couple of them up to the last minute and I think that reflects our boys ‘dedication and our boys’ competitiveness and the fact that we are a networked team right now.”
– Field level media
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