76ers coach Brett Brown is excited about his youthful squad's remaining schedule.
Of their six games left, two are against teams that have clinched Eastern Conference playoff appearances. Three other matchups are against teams still in contention for conference postseason berths.
"I think it is fantastic," said Brown, who was part of four NBA championship teams as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.
"I get so excited because we talk about it so much and they hear me," he added. "I am privileged that I have this experience and can explain that it [postseason] is a different sport [compared with the regular season] . . . and they are seeing it. They are feeling it."
At 18-58, no one is mistaking the Sixers for being close to becoming a postseason contender. But Brown wants his squad to study how playoff caliber squads step up their level of play in April.
Wednesday's game against the Wizards (42-33) at the Verizon Center is a prime example.
Washington dominated from the start and had a commanding 34-point cushion with a minute left in the third quarter. The Wizards prevailed, 106-93, in a game that was more lopsided than the final score would indicate. This was the same Wizards squad the Sixers defeated, 89-81, on Feb. 22 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The teams will meet for the fourth and final time this season on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Before then, the Sixers will face the playoff-contending Charlotte Hornets (Saturday) and last-place New York Knicks (Sunday) in back-to-back road games. Then after hosting Washington, they'll face the playoff-clinching Chicago Bulls (April 11). The season concludes with consecutive home games against the Milwaukee Bucks (April 13) and Miami Heat (April 15) – teams looking to lock up playoff bids.
"We are learning when we play against some of these playoff teams," point guard Ish Smith said. "I think that is the beauty of going down the stretch and playing all these playoff teams like Charlotte, Milwaukee and Chicago. They are getting us prepared."
However, the Sixers better be ready.
"When you are playing against playoff team, you have to come out swinging," Smith said, "because they are coming out swinging."