So Dallas will be a major measuring stick for the Sixers, but if recent pattern holds, it shouldn't be the easiest of times for the Mavericks.
"It's a great test for us," Sixers forward Elton Brand said after Monday's practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "We're excited to see where we are."
Brand, who suffered a dislocated right little finger but returned to action in Sunday's 95-91 win at Cleveland, says he's ready to go, albeit with a little discomfort.
"I have a little pain but it's all right and I will definitely play [Tuesday]," Brand said.
Dallas, which along with San Antonio is an NBA-best 21-8 on the road, has its most formidable team since reaching the 2006 NBA Finals, where the Mavs lost to the Miami Heat.
The addition this season of center Tyson Chandler has given Dallas a strong interior defensive presence. Chandler is averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots.
"Tyson Chandler has been a real pickup for them," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "Everything I'm hearing out of Dallas is that he is one of the leaders of the team."
Of course, Dirk Nowitzki remains one of the biggest matchup problems in the NBA. He is averaging 22.8 points and 6.7 rebounds.
"You have to consider him in the MVP voting for the league in terms of what he does for his team," Collins said. "When he wasn't playing, they couldn't win."
Nowitzki missed nine games this season with a sprained right knee and the Mavs went 2-7 in those games.
The Sixers lost their only other game this year against the Mavericks, 99-90, on Nov. 12 in Dallas. That dropped the Sixers to 2-7 en route to a 3-13 start.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle gives Collins plenty of credit for the Sixers' turnaround.
"Doug Collins is once again doing a phenomenal job completely revamping a team and franchise," Carlisle said in an e-mail. "The Sixers have gone from a disinterested team, particularly on defense, to one of the hottest and most exciting teams in the NBA. . . . I don't know of a bigger difference-maker in coaching than Doug Collins."
The Sixers hope to get Andre Iguodala in the flow offensively against the Mavs. He had just six points (on 2-for-10 shooting) in Sunday's win over Cleveland and has failed to score double figures in three of his last seven games.
Iguodala, the only NBA player other than LeBron James who is averaging at least 14 points, six assists and five rebounds, has remained strong defensively.
One thing that Collins is hoping to see the Sixers do is take care of the ball better. In their last two games, the Sixers have committed 33 turnovers. Entering Monday, the Sixers were second in the NBA in fewest turnovers per game (13.3).
Tuesday's game is the first of three straight at the Wells Fargo Center, with the Sixers hosting Minnesota on Friday and Golden State on Sunday.
The Sixers are 19-9 at home, where they have won nine of the last 11.
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.