Last month, coach Doug Collins talked about how worried he was about the first two games for the 76ers after the all-star break. Those games were against Washington and Detroit, two teams that entered Wednesday a combined 47 games under .500.
The Sixers won both games, and they will face a similar situation on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Wolves are 15-47 after beating the Pistons in Detroit Wednesday night, 116-105.
The Sixers (30-30) will be well-rested by NBA standards. They did not practice Wednesday after Tuesday's 101-93 loss to the visiting Dallas Mavericks (44-16).
The Sixers will return to practice Thursday to prepare for a Timberwolves team that they beat, 107-87, on Feb. 12 in Minnesota.
After Tuesday's loss, Collins talked about how proud he was of the Sixers' effort. But he couldn't be proud of the free-throw shooting (3 for 10 in the fourth quarter, 14 for 24 for the game).
But the Sixers were still in the game, trailing by a single point, 92-91, with 1 minute, 41 seconds left after Jodie Meeks hit a three-pointer.
This was a Dallas team on the ropes, having lost center Tyson Chandler for the game after he suffered a sprained right ankle late in the first half.
The Mavericks also shot poorly from the foul line (13 for 24), but they had enough to win their seventh in a row and 17th out of their last 18.
Dallas needed a season-best 30 points from Jason Terry. The only Sixer who was effective in guarding Terry was Andre Iguodala, but when that happened, Dallas had matchup advantages in other areas.
While the Sixers have been relatively injury-free this season, one player who bears watching is Elton Brand. For the second straight game, he dislocated his right little finger.
Brand insisted he was fine in the locker room afterward, but he shot just 5 for 13. In his previous 10 games, Brand shot 59 for 110 (.536), and he is shooting .520 for the season. He said his finger hurts more when he catches the ball, not as much when he shoots.
This team has pretty much escaped the injury bug aside from Iguodala's 12-game absence with right Achilles tendinitis.
The other top seven players in the rotation - Brand, Spencer Hawes, Meeks, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, and Evan Turner - have missed a total of one game to injury. (Hawes sat out with a back injury.)
Brand missed one game because of an NBA suspension and Williams missed two to attend the birth of his daughter.
Young and Holiday have appeared in all 60 games.
Staying healthy will be key for the Sixers, as will handling the teams they are supposed to beat. The Sixers will play 11 of their final 22 games against teams that entered Wednesday with sub-.500 records.
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.