CHARLOTTE – The 76ers look to avoid a letdown Tuesday night when they conclude their two-game road trip with a visit to the Spectrum Center.
The Sixers (45-25) are coming off a statement win – a 130-125 decision over the Milwaukee Bucks in a nationally televised affair Sunday. After facing the Charlotte Hornets here Tuesday night, they’ll return home for Wednesday’s much-anticipated nationally televised game against the Boston Celtics.
This contest against the Hornets (31-38), on paper, is nothing more than just a tune-up for the Celtics, who head into their home game against the Denver Nuggets on Monday at 43-27.
Charlotte is coming off Sunday’s 93-75 drubbing to the Miami Heat, marking their 12th loss in the last 17 games. Not cleared to play on back-to-back nights, Joel Embiid decided that he would miss Tuesday’s game because the Hornets are an easier opponent than the Celtics.
As a result, the stage is definitely set for the Sixers to have a letdown Tuesday night. The team insisted, however, that it hasn’t had any difficulty moving past the win against the Bucks and that they aren’t looking past the Hornets.
“You have to do what you do every day,” Jimmy Butler said of avoiding a letdown following Monday’s practice in Charlotte.
“You can be beat by anybody in this league at any given day on any time of the day,” the standout swingman added. “You come in here and you work like we did today. You stick to your day-to-day routine. And you treat any and every team as though you can’t be beat.”
Kemba Walker is enough to make sure the Sixers remain locked-in for Tuesday night’s matchup.
The All-Star point guard is averaging 40.2 points in his three games against the Sixers this season. Walker set a franchise-record 60 points in a 122-119 overtime loss to Philly at the Spectrum Center on Nov. 17. The Sixers were able to escape with the victory on that night thanks to Butler.
His three-pointer with 0.3 seconds left was the game-winning basket. That play came 15.4 seconds after Butler blocked Walker's 9-foot jumper and tapped the defensive rebound to former teammate Wilson Chandler while going out of bounds.
The Sixers won all three of this season’s meetings against Charlotte by a total of six points. That’s another reason why, despite having several new faces, the team isn’t overlooking the Hornets – especially without Embiid.
“Coach [Brett Brown] does a good job of making sure we don’t look past opponents,” T.J. McConnell said. “We obviously know who we are playing on Wednesday. But these are the types of games where if you do look past them, they come out and kick your [butt].
“So I know we will be ready and we just got to be focused like we were the last game [against the Bucks].”
In the last game, Tobias Harris was basically a bystander.
The standout power forward only attempted seven shots, making four, en route to finishing with 12 points. Seven of his points came in the second quarter on 3-for-3 shooting.
However, he rarely got touches in the game. Harris missed his lone shot in the first quarter, went 1-for-3 from the field in the third, and didn’t take a shot in the fourth.
He was far from upset following Monday’s practice.
“I think just with our talent level, it’s going to be a different guy every night for the most part,” said Harris, who’s averaging 19.3 points in his 16 games as a Sixer.
“I think you have to be willing to be OK with that,” he added. “It’s for the greater goal. That’s to win games and be a team that teams got to game plan for every single guy.”