WASHINGTON – This 76ers had hoped this current stretch will be a confidence builder, and it still can be despite Wednesday’s 123-106 loss at Capital One Arena in the second of five apparently winnable games before the schedule gets grueling.
The Sixers defeated the Washington Wizards, 132-115, on Tuesday night in the first of a home-and-home back-to-back with the Washington (17-25). On Friday, the Sixers will host the Atlanta Hawks, who are 12-29. Then the Sixers travel to the New York Knicks (10-31) on Sunday before entertaining the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-21).
The stretch, coach Brett Brown said before Wednesday’s loss, is “our opportunity to play better defense, to get wins under our belt, to get a respectful cockiness, a mojo, a swagger, a belief that we can take then into royalty, elite in the league.”
That’s because the Sixers (27-15) could take their share of lumps during a 12-game stretch from Jan. 17 to Feb. 12.
The Sacramento Kings (20-21) are the only opponent during that stretch without a winning record. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers (23-19) are the second-least intimidating foe. However, the Indiana Pacers (27-14), Oklahoma City Thunder (25-15), Houston Rockets (23-17), San Antonio (24-18), Denver (27-12), Golden State (27-14), Toronto (31-12), and Boston (25-15) are at least six games above .500.
“All those games are national-TV games [so] it’s the elite of the NBA,” Brown said. “So I want to take this next period of time, respectfully, building our defense, preserving and growing our team chemistry, and winning along the way before we get to that period.”
The Sixers will play at Indiana on Jan. 17. Then they’ll have a three-game homestand against the Thunder (Jan. 19), the Rockets (Jan. 21) and the Spurs (Jan. 23).
The Sixers will follow that up with a four-game road trip against the Nuggets (Jan. 26), the Lakers (Jan. 29), the Warriors (Jan. 31) and Kings (Feb. 2). And they’ll finish the grueling stretch with home games against the Raptors (Feb. 5), Nuggets (Feb. 8), Lakers (Feb. 10), and Celtics (Feb. 12) before traveling to the Knicks (Feb. 13).