76ers-Cavaliers Preview

The Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers have not made it easy on themselves to remain in playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Things are likely to get tougher in the final week of the season.

Set to play their final five games on the road, the 76ers hope to snap a three-game skid with a fifth consecutive victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Playing the second of three games in three nights, Philadelphia's late-season fade continued with a 102-97 home loss to Indiana on Tuesday. The 76ers (31-30) had a four-game lead in the Atlantic Division on Feb. 13 but have gone 11-21 since, and they own a 1 1/2-game lead over Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

"I'm trying to be positive with these guys, trying to lift them," coach Doug Collins told the 76ers' official website. "I try to bring some energy to this team and be as positive as I can."

That continues to be a challenge for Collins, whose team allowed 32 fourth-quarter points Tuesday to lose for the seventh time in nine games. The 76ers are 3-18 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

"We can't come out and not win games," said forward Thaddeus Young, who scored 19 points off the bench. "We have to, now."

Andre Iguodala had 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the 76ers lost their fourth straight at the Wells Fargo Center to finish 19-14 there.

Philadelphia is 12-16 on the road, where it will be for the remainder of the season. All but one of the 76ers' five remaining opponents have sub-.500 records.

Opening the stretch in Cleveland could help the 76ers, who have won their last two visits to Quicken Loans Arena. Philadelphia won the previous two meetings this season by a combined 33 points, including 99-84 at Cleveland on Feb. 11.

Sixers guard Jrue Holiday has averaged 18.0 points and 7.5 assists in the last six games against the Cavaliers.

Cleveland (20-40) looks to avoid a third straight defeat after losing by 39 points for the second time this season, 116-77 at Detroit on Tuesday. The Cavaliers fell 114-75 at home to Chicago on Jan. 20.

With star rookie guard Kyrie Irving out a ninth consecutive game with a shoulder injury, Manny Harris had 18 points off the bench and Tristan Thompson added 12 with 13 rebounds as the Cavaliers shot 34.6 percent and committed 19 turnovers that resulted in 29 points.

"That's one of the worst games we've played in a long, long time," coach Byron Scott said. "We've got another game (Wednesday), and I told them that we must have a better effort than this."

There is a chance Irving, averaging 18.8 points and 5.7 assists, could return for this contest. He was held to 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting in a 103-85 loss at Philadelphia on March 27.

Cleveland's Antawn Jamison went 0 for 10 from the field and finished with three points Tuesday.

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