Philadelphia (31-42) at Boston (32-40)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 6:30 pm EST Sun Mar 28, 2004
  • TV: ESPN, FSNE
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Philadelphia 76ers just might be a better team without Allen Iverson.

In search of their fourth straight win following a four-game losing streak, the short-handed Sixers will look to continue their march toward the playoffs when they travel to Boston to play the Celtics.

In their last eight games without Iverson, the Sixers have won seven, including successive victories over Dallas, Phoenix and Cleveland last week that pulled them within 1 1/2 games of the eighth-place Celtics and Cavaliers.

Iverson, who leads the Sixers with 26.4 points per game, is day-to-day with a sore right knee. It is unknown how many of the remaining nine games he will play in.

“I think that they are just getting after it,” interim coach Chris Ford said after Friday night’s 86-71 victory over the Cavaliers. “They enjoy playing with one another right now. They’re just working hard. Whoever we have left standing is out there working hard.”

The Sixers had won four straight games before Iverson clashed again with Ford, who took over on an interim basis when Randy Ayers was fired on Feb. 9. Iverson refused to play in a loss to Detroit on March 14 after being told by Ford he would come off the bench because he had missed the previous three games with an injury.

Iverson’s first confrontation with Ford came when he was fined for missing practice one day after playing in the All-Star game.

After sitting on the bench in street clothes in Detroit, Iverson returned the next game and the Sixers lost the three games he played, before he went out again. One year after playing all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career, Iverson has missed a career-high 25 to various injuries.

“Why is it just without Allen? We have four guys out,” point guard Eric Snow said. “You’re going to talk about who’s out, talk about everybody. It’s a team game. That’s why we have 12, 13 guys.”

Iverson is joined on the sideline by forward Glenn Robinson (elbow) and centers Marc Jackson (foot) and Derrick Coleman (knee).

The Celtics are coming in after ending a two-game slide with a 102-93 win over Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey on Friday.

Paul Pierce shot 10-of-20 from the floor and finished with 34 points. He said there’s nothing like a wide-open playoff race to keep things interesting. Five teams are within three games of seventh place in the East.

“It’s exciting. It’s the fun part of the year,” Pierce said. “Every day I pick up the paper and it’s like musical chairs.”

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