The Philadelphia 76ers are close to clinching a playoff berth in coach Doug Collins’ first campaign with the team, but they’ve hardly looked ready for the postseason in recent games.
The 76ers’ chances of snapping out of their funk in their next one don’t look all that promising.
Philadelphia has lost by at least 32 points in its past two trips to face the Chicago Bulls, who will try for a 15th consecutive home win Monday night against the 76ers.
Philadelphia (37-36) was ninth in the Eastern Conference on Jan. 20 after a 17-25 start under Collins, who hadn’t coached in the NBA since 2002-03 with Washington.
The 76ers then surged into playoff contention by winning 16 of 21 but have dropped six of 10 since. Despite that slump, they’ve moved into sixth place in the East just ahead of skidding New York and are 6 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Charlotte with 10 contests remaining for the Bobcats.
Philadelphia, though, is also on the verge of its first three-game slide since Nov. 23-26 following a 114-111 overtime loss at home to lowly Sacramento on Sunday.
The 76ers failed to build on a 12-point lead in the first half and needed Lou Williams’ 32-foot shot at the buzzer to force overtime. The Kings then scored eight of the final 12 points in that extra period.
“Hopefully, we learned,” Collins said. “We have a lot of work to do. This was not a good day.”
Philadelphia has experienced those kind of days when heading to Chicago in recent seasons. The 76ers have lost four straight there, including a 121-76 drubbing Dec. 21.
Their previous matchup with Philadelphia at the United Center was a 122-90 victory on Feb. 20, 2010, but the 76ers did manage to snap three-game skid to Chicago on Jan. 7 with a 105-99 win.
This time, the 76ers will face a Chicago team that’s surged to a two-game lead in the East by winning 12 of 13 and is on its longest home streak since a 17-game run Nov. 14, 1997-Jan. 21, 1998 - the club’s last NBA championship season.
Having scored 30 or more points in three of the last five games, Rose has continued to make his case for league MVP. The point guard also had a career-high 17 assists in Saturday’s 95-87 win at Milwaukee and scored eight of his team’s 12 straight points to finish that game.
“The worst thing you can do is give me confidence no matter what I’m doing,” said Rose, who had 30 points. “If I get any type of confidence, it’s going to be hard to stop me.”
He’s averaged 24.0 points in his last three games against Philadelphia, which has given up at least 100 in four straight contests. The Bulls, meanwhile, have allowed 87.1 per game during their home win streak and 88.3 in their last four matchups there with the 76ers.