The Philadelphia 76ers might normally feel good about their chances of getting over the .500 mark for the first time this season as they prepare to face the worst team in the NBA.
However, the Cleveland Cavaliers have already beaten them twice this season and are playing much better of late.
Seeking a season-best fourth consecutive win, the 76ers will try to avoid their 11th loss in 13 meetings with the Cavaliers as the teams close out the season series Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Philadelphia (29-29) reached the .500 mark for the first time in 2010-11 on Friday after a 110-94 win over Detroit, which used only six players.
The 76ers, averaging 113.7 points - 15.0 more than their season mark - during their three-game run, have won five of seven on the road following a 5-18 start.
“We are growing,” said coach Doug Collins. “Now we have got to go to Cleveland and see if we can get another road win. We are looking up, we are not looking down. Our guys feel good about themselves.”
Cleveland (11-47), which entered the All Star break with a stunning win Feb. 16 over the Los Angeles Lakers, is coming off another very impressive victory, defeating star-studded New York 115-109 on Friday thanks in part to season highs of 62 rebounds and 19 offensive boards.
Coach Byron Scott’s team averaged just 94.4 points over its NBA-record setting 26-game losing streak that ended Feb. 11, but has since won three of five while scoring 112.8 points per game.
While the offense is thriving, Scott credits the defense for his team’s recent success.
“Our guys are really starting to understand what we have to do every day on the defensive end,” he said.
Baron Davis(notes), averaging 16.3 points this month, was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday along with an unprotected 2011 first-round draft pick for guard Mo Williams(notes) and forward Jamario Moon(notes). Davis, though, isn’t likely to play in this game.
The Cavaliers, who have held opponents to less than 45.0 percent shooting in each of their three most recent wins, had taken 10 of 11 versus the 76ers - including two victories this season - prior to falling 117-97 on the road Dec. 7 as seven players scored in double figures for Philadelphia.
The 76ers are shooting 51.0 percent from the floor in their last five games and could again be tough to slow down. Elton Brand(notes) recorded 20 points and 17 rebounds versus the Pistons while Andre Iguodala(notes) and Jrue Holiday(notes) also had 21 points and 11 assists and 12 points and 10 assists, respectively.
Holiday had a season-high 29 points and eight assists in a 123-116 loss to Cleveland on Nov. 5. Thaddeus Young(notes), averaging 20.4 points on 67.7 percent shooting off the bench in his last five, registered a season-high 26 points and 11 rebounds in the Dec. 7 win.
The 76ers are 10-2 when Young scores at least 18 points.