By now, folks realize the 76ers are treated like a national joke for their futility.

Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe said Kentucky, his alma mater, would beat the Sixers in five games of a  seven-game series. ESPN had been poking fun of the franchise on a daily basis.

So how does Kevin Durant, the reigning NBA MVP, feel about the 1-17 Sixers?

They avoided the worst start in NBA history by posting their victory of the season, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 85-77, Wednesday night at the Target Center.

"They've been playing hard," said Durant, whose Oklahoma City Thunder face the Sixers Friday night at Wells Fargo Center. "They're a young team. We've been through it where it kind of tough to finish out game.

"But they've been in a lot of games. It's just a matter of them finishing."

Friday's matchup will mark Durant's second game back from the foot injury that sidelined him for six weeks. He had 27 points in Tuesday's 112-104 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Durant's all-star caliber teammate Russell Westbrook returned from a fractured hand last week.

The team has struggled when its best two players were sidelined. As a result, they come to Philadelphia with a 5-13 record.

"We definitely can't look past them," he said of the Sixers. "We've got to play hard for 48 minutes. We've seen it. We let up three minutes last game and they [Pelicans] went up 17 on us.  It was hard to fight back.

"So against any team in this league, you can get beat any night. So we got to play for 48 minutes and play our game and we'll be fine."