The Philadelphia 76ers have had most of this week to work on ending their slump, and perimeter defense should have been emphasized.
Slipping in the Eastern Conference standings, the 76ers return from a four-day break Saturday night as they look for their fifth consecutive victory over the lowly Memphis Grizzlies.
Philadelphia (29-30) has lost six of eight since the All-Star break and finds itself in seventh place in the East after challenging for the fourth seed less than a month ago.
“We are going to work on the little things that will put us up,” Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said.
Shoring up Philadelphia’s long-range defense must be near the top of DiLeo’s agenda.
The Sixers have given up 10 3-pointers or more in four of their last five games. Opponents are shooting 44.9 percent (53-for-118) from beyond the arc against Philadelphia over that stretch.
In the Sixers’ first 39 games, they allowed 10-plus 3-pointers on only six occasions. They’re 5-15 when opponents shoot 40 percent or better from 3-point range.
Philadelphia had an especially tough time in its last contest, allowing New Orleans to make 62.5 percent (10-for-16) of its 3s in a 98-91 loss Monday night. That percentage tied a season worst for the Sixers.
“The main thing we need to do is take focus,” said Philadelphia swingman Andre Iguodala, who had 30 points Monday and is averaging a team-high 18.0. “It’ll be a couple of days before we have a game, so we mainly just need to get ourselves ready and prepare for the next game. We’ve been having tough losses, and I think we’ve had a learning experience in those close losses.”
The Sixers will try to bounce back against a Grizzlies team they have beaten four straight times. Memphis (16-44) is shooting 30.7 percent (27-for-88) from beyond the arc during its skid against Philadelphia.
The Grizzlies, though, have made 51.9 percent of their attempts from long range in their last two games, including a 7-for-13 effort that helped them snap an eight-game losing streak with a 118-95 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Rookie center Marc Gasol came close to his first triple-double, posting 20 points, eight rebounds and a career-high 10 assists.
After two straight road games, Memphis will try to win for the first time in its last three at home.
“Going home with a win under our belts, it’s a good opportunity to gain some confidence down the stretch,” said Memphis forward Rudy Gay, who had a season-high 35 points.
A hip injury forced Gay to miss the Grizzlies’ 91-87 loss in Philadelphia on Feb. 11.
Andre Miller led Philadelphia with 24 points and nine assists in that game. The veteran point guard is averaging 25.3 points and shooting 66.0 percent from the field in his last three games.