Boasting an impressive four-game winning streak, the Trail Blazers look to avoid their third straight loss to the 76ers, who hope to have Iverson back Monday night.
Portland’s run includes victories over Denver, San Antonio, Dallas and Miami, even as it deals with many injuries, and the team has every reason to feel confident heading into a matchup with lowly Philadelphia (7-22).
But the Blazers (20-12) went 0-2 against the 76ers last season and have lost four of the last five meetings. Philadelphia also expects Iverson to return after missing four straight games with knee and shoulder problems.
The 34-year-old Iverson is averaging 15.6 points in five games with Philadelphia since parting ways with Memphis. He’s averaging 11.5 points and shooting 28.6 percent in his last two games versus the Blazers.
Portland has had plenty of injury issues of its own. The Blazers beat the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets 107-96 on Friday night, getting 41 points from Brandon Roy(notes) even though he was wearing a thin brace to protect his sore left shoulder.
Roy, who missed Wednesday night’s win at San Antonio, made a career-high 16 field goals. He has scored 23 points or more in 12 straight games, the longest active streak of 20-plus games in the NBA.
Roy has helped Portland overcome injuries to center Greg Oden(notes) (left knee), forwards Nicolas Batum(notes) (shoulder), Travis Outlaw(notes) (left foot) and Rudy Fernandez(notes) (back), and rookies Patrick Mills(notes) (right foot) and Jeff Pendergraph(notes) (hip). Center Joel Przybilla(notes), meanwhile, underwent season-ending right knee surgery Thursday.
Still, the Blazers have won 10 of their last 12 home games and six of seven overall.
The Blazers have 45 assists and 19 turnovers over their last two games. They’re 16 for 32 from 3-point range during that span.
“This team is playing basketball the right way,” coach Nate McMillan said. “They’re playing together, and they’re playing 48 minutes.”
Blazers point guard Andre Miller(notes) has turned the ball over twice in his last four contests. He was part of a trade three years ago that ended Iverson’s first stint with the 76ers, getting dealt from Denver. The Nuggets traded Iverson to Detroit in November 2008, and he was signed as a free agent with Memphis this past offseason.
Iverson lasted three games there in part due to his inability to accept a backup role. If Iverson returns for this contest, he’ll likely start in the backcourt alongside Lou Williams, with rookie Jrue Holiday(notes) and Willie Green(notes) as the primary backups.
Philadelphia could use the help, having lost three straight heading into the third matchup on a six-game road trip. The Sixers were held below 80 points for the first time in nearly eight weeks and had a season-low 11 assists Saturday in a 97-76 loss to Utah.
Thaddeus Young(notes) was a bright spot for the Sixers, posting 20 points after being held to nine for the second time in three games Tuesday night in a loss to Washington. He had 25 points in a 114-108 overtime victory over Portland on March 23, the last meeting between the teams.