Following the 76ers’ 120-113 win over surging Oklahoma City Thunder, point guard Ben Simmons was asked about beating a good team.
The Thunder had won five in a row and nine of 10 entering Monday’s game.
“We know we can play with the best teams, it’s just a matter of putting it all together at the right times,” Simmons said. “Losing games that we shouldn’t lose, things like that, obviously frustrates us, but at the same time we know we can compete with the best.”
The record to this point shows that the Sixers can compete with the best and lose to them with equal frequency.
So far in this NBA season, there isn’t much of a middle class. Entering Tuesday’s games, there were 13 teams above .500 and 17 teams below. The team with the worst winning record is Oklahoma City (20-16). The other 12 teams with winning records are at least nine games over .500.
The Sixers (24-14) have enjoyed mixed results against the top teams.
They are 9-9 against teams with winning records and 15-5 against teams with losing marks.
Broken down further, the Sixers are 8-2 against the winning teams at home and 1-7 against those teams on the road.
The Sixers are 6-5 against teams with losing records on the road, and 9-0 at home.
Boston, which visits the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, is the one winning team against which the Sixers have had success both home and on the road.
The Sixers are 2-0 against the Celtics this season. Boston is 25-9 but coming off Monday’s 99-94 loss at Washington, which is 12-24. The Celtics played without standout point guard Kemba Walker, who missed his third straight game with the flu.
The Sixers opened the season with a 107-93 home win over the Celtics. More impressively, the Sixers won, 115-109 at Boston on Dec. 12 as Joel Embiid had a season-high 38 points. Other than the 121-109 win over visiting Milwaukee on Christmas Day, that second victory over Boston was arguably the Sixers’ second-most impressive performance of the season.
Of course, there is the chance Embiid won’t be available for Thursday’s game. He suffered a dislocated left ring finger in the first quarter of Monday’s win, but returned to action and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and a season-high eight assists. He said he played in pain and had trouble grabbing rebounds with two hands.
The Sixers had no update on his injury Tuesday. He wasn’t at practice while getting further off-site evaluation.
Beating Boston without Embiid would be a difficult chore. Actually, beating anybody without him is tough.
This season he has missed seven games and the Sixers are 3-4.
Only one of those games without Embiid was against a team with a winning record. That was their 115-97 New Year’s Eve loss at Indiana.
The Sixers are in the middle of one of their more demanding stretches, with seven straight games against teams with winning records. Boston will be the fifth straight and then the Sixers will hit the road for games in Dallas and Indiana.
After that, they will play four straight games against teams with losing records.