Fueled by a 31 point performance from Tobias Harris, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 116-109 last Friday. This victory extended their home undefeated streak to 14 games. Crucial reminder: the 76ers have thus far played a total of 14 games at home this season.
It’s often said that the mark of a great basketball team is its ability to win games on the road. Maybe the 76ers don’t quite fit the label “great” at this juncture of the season, having posted a mediocre 6-7 record in their away contests. However, their unblemished record on their home court has led them to a position where if the season ended today, they would be the number two seed in the east, trailing only Giannis’s Milwaukee Bucks.
To answer the question of how long their undefeated home streak can last, let’s take a look at their upcoming schedule.
Matchup One: Home vs. Miami Heat Wednesday December 18th
The 76ers chance to extend their home undefeated streak to 15 games will come this Wednesday when the Miami Heat come to town. The Heat have played well all year and are just one spot below the 76ers in the standings with an 18-7 record. Jimmy Butler has been the unequivocal leader of this squad in his first year, amassing impressive all-around statistics with 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists a game. Bam Adebayo has also been a pleasant surprise for the Heat and is currently averaging a double-double. These two players will be the focus for the 76ers defensive effort. The first time these teams met this season the 76ers won a lopsided victory 113-86. This game has important implications for the eastern conference standings so Philadelphia should be motivated by more than their streak to take this game.
Matchup Two: Home vs. Dallas Mavericks Friday December 20th
The dominant play of Luka Doncic this season has been all the talk of the league. Many are passionately declaring that he is playing the best basketball of any 20 year old…ever. Doncic’s play has elevated the Mavericks to third place in the western conference only trailing the two star-studded Los Angeles franchises. The Mavericks have also proven to be a stellar team when playing on the road this year with a 9-2 record. This game is truly a clash of styles as the 76ers are a top five team in defensive efficiency while the Mavericks are the number one team in offensive efficiency. If the 76ers can slow the game down and force Dallas to play at their pace it would definitely be to their advantage.
Matchup Three: Home vs. Washington Wizards Saturday December 21st
If the 76ers survive playoff-caliber teams like the Heat and Mavericks, their home stand should get easier against the Washington Wizards. They are 7-16 overall and have only won three games on the road all year. Bradley Beal is the playmaker and clear cut top option on their team. The 76ers should utilize both Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson to slow down his production. It is worth noting that the 76ers did fall to the Wizards 119-113 when they met earlier this season. However, barring a scoring explosion from Beal, the 76ers should take this contest easily.
The home matchup awaiting the 76ers after the three outlined above is the hottest team in the NBA right now, the Milwaukee Bucks. They are currently riding a 17 game winning streak with the Greek Freak is putting up stats that eclipse Shaq in his very best year. That should be circled at this point as the game of the year for the 76ers.
*All statistics are as of 12/14/19