The Philadelphia 76ers have put together a quiet surge thanks to an uncharacteristically productive offense. They’ll likely need that productivity to continue as they open a three-game Western Conference road trip Friday against the high-scoring Golden State Warriors.
The 76ers (26-32) averaged 93.5 points while losing 11 of their first 13 games of January. Since Jan. 26, however, they’re averaging 101.0 points during a 10-4 stretch, helping put them in playoff contention in the shallow Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia’s hot streak continued as it got a season-high 26 points from guard Willie Green in its 101-89 victory over Southeast Division-leading Orlando on Wednesday. The Sixers’ eighth win in their last 10 games was also their seventh straight victory when scoring at least 100 points.
“This is a good confidence booster,” said Green, averaging 20.5 points and shooting 59.3 percent from the field in the four games heading into Philadelphia’s trip against Golden State, Phoenix and the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Especially going into the games on the West Coast have coming up. Tonight we played the way we wanted to play—we ran, we got up and down, and we got a win. It was big for us.”
Part of the reason behind Philadelphia’s recent success is the team’s ability to get the ball out in the open court. The Sixers are averaging 23.8 fast-break points since Jan. 26, including 27.3 in their last four games.
“Twenty-plus fast-break points is the way we’re trying to play,” Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said.
That will likely be fine with the Warriors (34-22), who lead the league in scoring at 110.0 points per game and in fast-break points at 22.1 per contest.
The 76ers, meanwhile, are still near the bottom of the league in scoring at 95.1 points per game despite getting 17.2 on fast breaks - among the top five averages in the NBA.
Golden State passed the century mark for the 20th straight game on Tuesday, beating Seattle 105-99 behind a season-high 14 points from reserve forward Austin Croshere. The 11th-year veteran, who has been sidelined for much of this season because of back issues, scored all of his points in the third quarter while going 6-for-6 from the field to help the Warriors pull away.
“Croshere to the rescue,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “We’ve been waiting ever since he came back from the back injury for him to be a factor, and he just hasn’t been doing it. He had some really bad practices when he first came back. We’ve been waiting a long time for him to be a factor, and hopefully he can do it regularly now.”
Nelson’s club also benefited from the return of captain Stephen Jackson, who scored 17 points after a two-game absence due to an ankle injury. Perhaps the biggest contributor, however, was Monta Ellis, who had 30 points on 14-for-22 shooting.
Ellis is averaging 26.0 points and shooting 59.3 percent from the field in his last 14 games. He had 31 points in the Warriors’ 100-98 overtime win over the Sixers on Nov. 24. Golden State’s Kelenna Azubuike made the game-winning 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds remaining in that contest - the Warriors’ fourth straight victory over the Sixers.