Elton Brand tried to get beyond the noncontact drills during the 76ers' practice yesterday, but the coaching staff wouldn't allow it.

"More precautionary than anything," coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Brand has missed the last two games with a strained right hamstring. Cheeks' obvious preference is to have his starting power forward available for tomorrow night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"If you did a survey, unless you're a rookie or don't play a lot of minutes, everybody has something," Brand said. "This is one of those 'somethings.' I know the body. It's not something huge. I should be able to play."

Samuel Dalembert (sore knee) and Lou Williams (abdominal strain) did not practice, but are expected to play.

Six Shots

The Cavs, off to the best start in their history at 17-3, are beating teams by an NBA-high average of 13.3 points, and by 21.8 during their current eight-game winning streak, taking all eight by at least 12 points. The Los Angeles Lakers are the only other team with a double-digit scoring differential, at 12.2 . . . Tickets for the Sixers-Chicago Bulls game March 13 at the Wachovia Spectrum go on sale Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. through

» READ MORE: www.ComcastTIX.com

, at the Spectrum box office or via 1-800-298-4200 . . . Sixers ambassador

World B. Free

and guard

Royal Ivey

will help tip off La Liga Del Barrio today at Thomas Edison High;

Theo Ratliff


Marreese Speights

and president/GM

Ed Stefanski

will visit Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. *