Doc Rivers likes to say that a win is a win.
So even though the 76ers have defeated injury-plagued, losing teams for most of their six-game winning streak, they all count the same.
And largely because the Sixers have cleaned up against sub-.500 teams this season, they remain in great position to earn the all-important top seed in the Eastern Conference and the home-court advantage that comes with it.
The Sixers (45-21) hold a two-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker against second-place Brooklyn with six games to play. The Nets are 43-23 entering Thursday night’s game at Dallas.
The Sixers are 26-5 against teams that have losing records and 19-16 against teams .500 or better. The Nets are 21-11 against teams with losing records and 22-12 against the teams that are .500 and above.
“It’s important, I mean if you want a one seed or one of the top seeds, you really have to do it,” Rivers said of defeating losing teams. “I can think of some games that we dropped, but also some games that we probably shouldn’t have won, and we’ve come back and won, so it probably all washes out at the end of the day. I have found the end of the season with COVID involved to be pretty difficult for everybody.”
The Sixers have had a few forgettable performances against sub-.500 teams, such as the 112-109 overtime home loss on Feb. 27 to a Cleveland team that dressed just nine players.
Yet since the All-Star break, the Sixers are 11-1 against teams currently with losing records. The one defeat, of course, was a month ago against Friday’s opponent, New Orleans, as the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson went off for 37 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
New Orleans is 1½ games out of the 10th and final Western Conference spot for a play-in berth in the postseason, so the Pelicans will be motivated.
With the No. 1 seed in their sights, so will the Sixers.