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Sixers extend win streak to season-high four games

by Max Rappaport, Sixers.com
Posted: January 5, 2014

They say each New Year is an opportunity to reinvent oneself, and the Sixers have taken that adage to heart. They’re undefeated in 2014 and are winners of each their last four – all on the road. 

More impressive, perhaps, than the fresh notches in the win column is the fashion in which the team earned them.

Captaining with the league’s youngest roster, head coach Brett Brown knew early on that he would want his team to run. And run they have.

The Sixers rank first in the league in pace (102.5 possessions per game) and third in fastbreak scoring (16.9 points per game). But on the defensive end, their identity did not come together quite as quickly.

During the team’s current four-game winning streak, Philadelphia has held opponents to just 6.8 made threes per game, good for 11th-fewest in the league. That might not seem like a sound like an overwhelming achievement, but when you account for pace, that number becomes quite impressive.

Over the Sixers’ last four games, they have seen opponents attempt 26.8 three-pointers per game, the third-most taken against any team in the league. Philadelphia has allowed just a 25.2% conversion rate from distance during that stretch, good for second-best in the league. 

“It’s a team that’s growing,” Coach Brown said of his young squad following a 101-99 win over the Trail Blazers on Saturday. “We’ve always had an identity with pace and offense, but we’re slowly finding an identity within defense too.

“Once everybody just sort of admitted that we had a problem that we have to fix, and that nothing good is going to happen until we address it as a group… I felt like we saw the light, and we kept moving. I attribute this West Coast trip to that, solely.”

This year’s iteration of an annual Western Conference trip the Sixers embark upon every holiday season began with a loss in Phoenix on December 28, but ended with consecutive wins against the Lakers, Nuggets, Kings, and Trail Blazers. It was the team’s most successful such trip since 2000, when the Sixers went 3-0 during a shortened holiday road swing. 

Confidence within the locker room is sky high, and the team hopes it continue to carry that as the second-third of the NBA season continues to unfold.

“We need to start taking our turn and working our way up the hill,” Evan Turner said when asked about his team’s mindset 33 games into the season. 

“The first-third of the year, we played every other day, so we couldn’t get stuff to really work out. We’re still learning each other and we’ve switched the roster a couple times, so right now we’re reaping the benefits (we can) from a tough situation and taking advantage of it.”

One of those benefits, oddly enough, has been the grueling five-game road swing from which the Sixers just returned. Coach Brown said before the trip that he hoped it would serve to bring his young team closer together in much the way he felt the squad’s preseason journey to Europe did.  

“It’s a testament to the guys and their resiliency (to have gone 4-1 on this trip),” Spencer Hawes said after Saturday’s win over Portland. “Momentum’s a crazy thing – once you get it, you can’t let it go. We’ve got it right now, so we’ve got to keep going with it.”

The Sixers look to extend their winning streak to five in their return to Wells Fargo Center Monday night against Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

SECURE YOUR TIX: Monday, 7pm vs. Minnesota