Sixers looking to put together some wins

Posted: January 26, 2013

As the 76ers on Friday prepared to face the Atlantic Division-leading New York Knicks (26-14), a team that has won both meetings with the Sixers this season by an average of 19 points, coach Doug Collins referenced the Boston Celtics in an attempt to motivate his team.

The Celtics (20-22) would be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs started Saturday. They are only 31/2 games ahead of the flagging Sixers (17-25), winners of just seven of their last 26 games. On Thursday, New York extended the Celtics' losing streak to a league-high five games.

However, for 10 days earlier this month, from Jan. 4 through 14, the Celtics strung together six straight wins. The Sixers have not won back-to-back games since Nov. 30.

"They are 20-22," Collins said, "and I told them the difference is they had a six-game winning streak. And we have had a one-game winning streak since Nov. 30.

"At some point in time, if you are going to start fighting for that [playoff] spot, you have to start winning some games and start putting some wins together. It doesn't have to be five in a row. But it can be four out of six. But we have not done that since."

The Sixers' Saturday contest with the Knicks represents the start of a season-high eight-game homestand. And if they are going to have any chance whatsoever of staying in the hunt for the playoffs, they must string some wins together.

After the Knicks, the Sixers will host Memphis (27-14). Then the Sixers will face sub-.500 teams in the Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, and Charlotte Bobcats. Of the six games after Memphis, only the Los Angeles Clippers and the Indiana Pacers will bring winning records to the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers change their starting lineup beginning with the New York game: Spencer Hawes, the starting center for the better part of the previous two seasons, indicated that he might supplant Lavoy Allen in that spot. Hawes is averaging 9.9 points and shooting 47 percent from the field this season.

In the last eight games, Hawes has averaged 13.3 points and shot 58 percent from the field.

Hawes said that the Sixers must string together some wins right away.

"We'll see tomorrow," Hawes said when asked if he could start. "My lips are sealed. The most important thing for us is that now we have to take advantage of being at home and trying to string together a group of games while not looking ahead or looking past the game that is in front of us."

Injury updates. Shooting guard Jason Richardson will miss his third game with left knee synovitis. . . . Reserve guard/forward Nick Young did not practice due to a sore hip.


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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