Sixers aim to extend win streak to six vs. uneven Spurs
The Philadelphia 76ers will try for their sixth consecutive victory when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
The Sixers captured their fifth in a row with a 116-106 road win Wednesday against the Orlando Magic.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 31 points, Tobias Harris added 22, Seth Curry had 20 points and 12 assists, and Furkan Korkmaz scored 20 points in the balanced effort. Embiid, who recently was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month, has at least 30 points in all five wins.
What’s peculiar is this: Philadelphia improved to 14-8 on the road. Yet it holds a 7-8 mark at home.
Why the disparity?
“That’s the question of the year right now for us,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said.
The Sixers’ cohesiveness was evident throughout, especially Harris. On Monday in Philadelphia, Harris was booed by the home crowd and then gestured in a sarcastic way to fans.
“We’re rolling, and this is a good feeling from our team and our group,” Harris said. “Our group is meshing together; we’re having fun out there and it’s about the team.”
The Sixers won again without key players such as Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle in the league’s health and safety protocol.
“I know they’re feeling great,” Rivers said. “This thing, as everybody knows, is individual. Some guys have struggled with it and some guys haven’t.”
The Spurs will look for their second straight road win in a hostile environment when they visit Philadelphia.
Dejounte Murray came off the COVID-19 list and produced 22 points in the Spurs’ 99-97 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. Murray had been out for 10 days, including five games.
The Spurs lost four of five while Murray was out.
“We don’t win without Dejounte,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after coaching his 2,000th career game with the franchise. “We need him to win basketball games.”
But now the Spurs have to win without starters Keldon Johnson and Derrick White, who were placed in the health and safety protocol on Thursday. Key reserves Devin Vassell and forward Thaddeus Young followed them into the protocol. Johnson and White are the Spurs’ second- and third-leading scorers.
Murray added 12 assists and nine rebounds in a stirring 33-minute performance.
“This is my life,” Murray said. “Besides my daughter, my family, my friends and stuff, this is my life, what I do on a daily basis.”
“He’s special,” Derrick White added of Murray. “The dude loves to play, competes, talented, hits big shots, defends. He does it all for us. I’m super-happy he’s back.”
Vassell also continued his massive improvement with 17 points.
“He’s really asserting himself, becoming more and more aggressive on the offensive end, which we love,” Popovich said of Vassell. “He’s coming into his own as we get into the season.”
Four starters reached double figures for the Spurs, who have been without Doug McDermott, Lonnie Walker IV and Devontae Cacok in the league’s health and safety protocol.
The short-handed Spurs will be competing in their fifth game on a daunting seven-game trip. They had dropped four in a row, including three straight on this trip, before bouncing back for a win at Boston on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media