Greedy Sixers expect to sweep upcoming games vs. Cavaliers, Wizards, Celtics, Pistons
In the next four games, the 76ers host Washington and Cleveland, then visit high-flying Boston before entertaining Detroit.
You definitely don't know the 76ers if you assume their goal is a respectable showing in this week's four games.
They expect to win all of them.
They expect to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers foresee doing the same to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at home. They expect a road win vs. the Boston Celtics the next night. And they expect to cap the week with a home victory against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
The days of just trying to be competitive against elite teams are over. The Sixers are disappointed when they don't win, no matter the caliber of the opponent.
"We've got to be greedy," shooting guard JJ Redick said. "That's what we talked about for the last three or weeks — is just being greedy."
The Sixers (11-7) have reason to be optimistic.
They have won three straight games and five of their last six. Their lone setback during that stretch came to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
The Sixers are the league's top rebounding squad, with an average of 48.8 per game. They're also second in assists at 26.4 per game, behind the Warriors (30.1) and tied with the Toronto Raptors for fifth in scoring (109.6).
"It's a challenge, for sure, this week," acknowledged Redick, whose squad is fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, with 63 games remaining. "It's the toughest week you'll have in the NBA."
That's in part because, in the Cavs (12-7), they'll face the team with the conference's third-best record. Cleveland also boasts the league's best player, four-time MVP LeBron James. The Cavs are expected to make a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance.
Monday's game could have an interesting subplot. If cleared to play, Sixers rookie point guard Ben Simmons will face James, his mentor and the player he's most compared to. Both are represented by mega-agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Simmons missed Saturday's 130-111 victory over the Orlando Magic with a swollen left elbow.
Next up are the Wizards (10-9), who have the conference's seventh-best record. Washington, however, will be without all-star point guard John Wall (left knee), another Paul client. A victory over Washington would avenge a 120-115 season-opening loss in D.C.
The conference-leading Celtics (18-3) have the league's best record. They had a 16-game winning streak snapped Wednesday at Miami. The streak actually began with a 102-92 win over the Sixers on Oct. 20 at Wells Fargo.
The Pistons (12-6) are second in the conference standings. They'll be motivated to avenge a 97-86 loss to the Sixers in Detroit on Oct. 23.
"I know we are going to respond well," Redick said of the four-game stretch. "We played the two best teams in the NBA, really, the three best teams. I was going to say we played the two best teams in the NBA twice in Houston and Golden State. And you can throw Boston in there as 1, 2 or 3, however you look at it."
The Sixers had third-quarter meltdowns in both losses to the Warriors (15-5). The Sixers split their two matchups with the Western Conference-leading Rockets (15-4).
"My expectations are we are going to play to win," Redick said.