By necessity, Sixers must be road warriors

Posted: April 16, 2012

If the 76ers had their druthers, they certainly would prefer playing the remaining six of their final seven regular-season games at home.

But, as they prepared Sunday for a Monday game against the Orlando Magic, the reality for the Sixers is that six of their final regular-season games are on the road.

The Sixers (31-28) have backed themselves into a corner mostly because of their shoddy play at home. After dropping a 95-89 decision to the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, the Sixers, who began the season by winning 12 of their first 14 home games, have lost 11 of their last 18 games at home.

"For whatever reason we have not played well at home," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "As we look at where we are, a big part of it is we haven't taken care of our home court. It's hard to put your finger on it, and now we've got to go out on the road and play tough."

Not that the road has been particularly kind to them, either. In losing 19 of their last 30 games, the Sixers, who opened the season by going 7-4 on the road, have lost 11 of their last 16 road games.

Before they landed in Orlando, the Sixers, who lost an incredibly disappointing home game to New Jersey on Friday, jumped from the eighth seed to the seventh thanks to the Miami Heat's victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks (31-29) trail the 76ers by a half- game.

The Sixers face an Orlando team that owns a 2-1 season-series advantage over them and has beaten them 13 of the last 15 times they have played. Orlando has won eight of the last nine meetings between the teams in Florida.

However, this will be the first time the teams have met this season with perennial all-star Dwight Howard on the bench. Howard is expected to miss at least the rest of the regular season with a herniated disk in his back.

"When you look at it, the Magic are still a great team," Sixers guard Evan Turner said. "But they don't have their game-changer, so it's an opportunity that we have to take advantage of."

With Howard out, Orlando will start Glen Davis at center. In the teams' most recent meeting, on April 6, Howard finished with 20 points, 22 rebounds, and six assists. Davis made his presence felt with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

The Orlando game is the first of three games back-to-back-to-back. On Tuesday, the Sixers play their final home game of the season, against Indiana. That game is followed by a quick trip to Cleveland for a Wednesday game with the Cavaliers.

"They are all going to be tough games for us," said Turner, who tallied 18 points in the Sixers' loss to New Jersey. "This is about us handling our business."


Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer

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