The Philadelphia 76ers have played well at home against some of the Western Conference’s top teams. A visit from the conference’s worst club would seem like a break, but the Minnesota Timberwolves have been playing better on the road lately.
Philadelphia looks for its fourth straight home win over the Timberwolves on Friday night and first sweep of this season series in five years.
Already with seven more home victories this season (19) than in 2009-10, Philadelphia is 18-6 at the Wells Fargo Center since Nov. 17 with a 7-3 mark against the West, including wins over San Antonio, Denver, New Orleans and Portland.
Coach Doug Collins’ team had a chance to knock off visiting Dallas on Tuesday, trailing by three with less than a minute to go, but lost 101-93 as its season-high four-game winning streak was snapped. Philadelphia (30-30), though, remains in seventh place in the East, 1 1/2 games back of sixth-place New York.
“We played toe-to-toe with one of the best, one of the hottest teams in the league,” Collins said of the Mavericks, who have won 17 of 18 and are second in the West. “I’m proud of them for that. Our guys are doing this for the first time. They’ve been at it for a while, they’ve been here a lot of times. That showed tonight.”
The 76ers have won three in a row at home versus Minnesota since Dec. 3, 2006, and posted a 119-97 victory in the Timberwolves’ last visit Feb. 9, 2010. Coach Kurt Rambis’ team, however, has won three of five on the road after opening 2-23 on opponents’ home courts.
“I was really happy with our effort and energy tonight,” Rambis said. “I thought our second unit played very well together, which helped us a lot.”
Philadelphia’s reserves are scoring a league-best 39.9 points per game despite being held to 29 on Tuesday.
While Minnesota’s play has been inconsistent this season, Rambis can count on Love for a double-double every night. The All-Star forward, averaging a team-high 20.9 points and a league-leading 15.5 rebounds, tops the NBA with 57 double-doubles and has recorded 48 straight - the longest such streak since Moses Malone’s 51-game run in 1978-79.
Love had 16 points and 13 rebounds in a 107-87 home loss to Philadelphia on Feb. 12.
Minnesota second-leading scorer Michael Beasley(notes) missed that matchup with a sprained ankle and has been inconsistent since returning, scoring more than 20 points in two games but averaging 10.8 on 30.0 percent shooting in the other four.
The 76ers last swept Minnesota in 2005-06 when they won both games by a total of three points.