The Philadelphia 76ers took a big step toward solidifying their spot in the playoffs Friday.
Now, they’ll try for their season-high fourth straight victory as they visit the stumbling Washington Wizards.
The Sixers beat Cleveland 103-98 on Friday, moving past the Cavaliers into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Sixers and Cavs have the same record, but Philadelphia owns the tiebreaker advantage with three wins over Cleveland.
“We’re in it,” said Sixers guard Allen Iverson, the NBA’s leading scorer. “It is our spot right now. If we don’t play basketball then we will lose it. We understand what’s going on. We understand the severity of all these games coming up.”
Iverson had 23 points and a career-high 16 assists despite spraining both of his thumbs.
“He showed an unbelievable amount of savvy to know there are other ways to win without scoring,” Philadelphia coach Jim O’Brien said. “It was great leadership by Allen to change gears.”
The Sixers are three games behind the Boston Celtics in the Atlantic Division standings with seven to play. The winner of each division is guaranteed one of the top three seeds in the playoffs.
However, Iverson said his team isn’t thinking much about its outside chance at a division crown.
“Our whole thing is basically getting in. If we get in, we feel like the sky’s the limit,” Iverson said.
Chris Webber missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left shoulder and will not travel with the team for Saturday’s game. O’Brien said Webber could return for Tuesday’s game against Boston.
The Wizards lost their fourth straight Friday, falling 93-83 to the Indiana Pacers. Larry Hughes scored 24 points and Kwame Brown added 16 for Washington, which dropped into a tie with Indiana for the fifth playoff spot in the East.
Antawn Jamison missed his second straight game with tendinitis in his right knee. The Wizards are opening a five-game homestand.