Game Preview | On Road, Team Looking to Grow
We’re all aware of how exceptional the results have been for the 76ers (8-5) at home.
With Friday’s 133-132 overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets, their impressive run at The Center reached 17 straight wins, good for the eighth-longest continuous home winning streak in franchise history.
This season alone, the Sixers have gotten off to a 7-0 start in the building. It marks the first time since the 1992-93 campaign they’ve won their first seven home outings.
Now, having mustered up some modest momentum, this year’s club sits on the cusp of its first extensive road test.
Beginning Saturday at FedEx Forum in Memphis, the Sixers will play three in a row outside of South Philadelphia. The trip will be their longest to-date.
Monday brings a visit to Miami, followed by a stop in Orlando on Wednesday.
For as good as the Sixers have been in South Philadelphia (8.3 home net rating), their fortunes have been different on the road, where they’ve compiled a record 1-5.
In fairness, this dichotomy is probably better explained by caliber of opponent (five of the Sixers’ first six road games have come against projected playoff teams), rather than geographical location.
Now that the Sixers have won four of their last five tilts overall, Brett Brown is hoping to see more growth and improvement while the team is out of town.
“It’s trying to look at what can you do that’s just vanilla, and make vanilla great, just solid,” Brown said Friday, when asked about the opportunities facing the Sixers on their upcoming trek.
On the whole, there have been flashes of better defensive chemistry and communication. The Sixers’ pace and passing, to no surprise, have been on point.
Joel Embiid has shown no signs of slowing down (in fact, just the opposite, perhaps), and Ben Simmons has been a force in his own right.
In the same breath, though, Brown also acknowledged Friday he wants to keep tinkering with some things.
Like giving Ben Simmons spot duty at the five spot in the right small ball situations. Or, continuing to stagger the use of Simmons and Markelle Fultz in second halves, a strategy that has proven increasingly beneficial.
“It’s just the rhythm beat of 82 games,” said Brown. “Internally, we have our own goals, and what we’re trying to get done.”
The next couple days, it’ll just be a matter of doing it on the road.
The Memphis Grizzlies (6-4) sit atop the Southwest Division, tied with the San Antonio Spurs, which represents an auspicious start for a team that dealt with key injuries a season ago. This past Wednesday, Memphis snapped a two-game skid with a good win over the Denver Nuggets, which had entered the evening with just one loss. Like the Sixers, the Grizz are unbeaten at home (6-0). Veterans Mike Conley (16.7 ppg, 6.0 apg) and Marc Gasol (14.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 4.2 apg) are playing well. Rookie forward Jaren Jackson (12.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has emerged as an important contributor as well.
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