On Thursday night, both a local and national audience will get to see exactly how much these 76ers have improved.

After starting the season with a record of 3-13, the Sixers have won four of five games. They also have won five consecutive games at the Wells Fargo Center.

Excluding an excruciating loss in Atlanta against the Hawks, a game in which the Sixers led by as many as 18 points, the Sixers have not lost since Nov. 26 against the Miami Heat.

On Thursday, the Sixers, now 7-14, will host the Boston Celtics, who enter the game with an Eastern Conference-leading record of 17-4.

Thursday's game will be shown on TNT, the Sixers' first nationally televised game of the season.

After Tuesday night's blowout victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sixers coach Doug Collins admitted that his team did sense a need for "banking" some victories before the schedule takes a turn for the worse.

"We looked at our schedule," Collins said. "We know what is on the back side of this."

During the last 10 days, the Sixers' schedule has been somewhat friendly, with a few less-than-stellar opponents. Beginning with the Celtics, all that changes. The Sixers face a string over the holidays of eight straight road games.

"We definitely know what is ahead," Collins explained. "That is why every win right now is precious for us. We want to keep ourselves above water during this period of time."

The Sixers did not practice Wednesday.

"Boston Celtics, Thursday night, TNT," Collins said. "It should be interesting."

The schedule. Beginning Thursday, the Sixers have a segment that includes four of five games at home but some very difficult opponents. The Sixers will play against the Celtics, against the New Orleans Hornets, at the New Jersey Nets, against the Los Angeles Clippers, and against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Beginning Dec. 18 at Orlando, the Sixers play eight consecutive away games, a stretch that will culminate against the Hornets on Jan. 3.