SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It’s hard to determine how good the 76ers are based on their four-game road trip.

The swing out west was supposed to provide a better idea of how much the Sixers have improved in recent weeks. Instead, their games against the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings were wars of attrition.

The outcomes had a lot to do with which team had their full complement of key players on a given night.

The Sixers were without their starting frontcourt -- Jimmy Butler (sprained right wrist), Wilson Chandler (left hamstring tightness) and Joel Embiid (rest) -- in a 126-110 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 26.

The trio returned for the next game, a 121-105 victory over the Lakers on Tuesday. But the Lakers were missing LeBron James (left groin strain), Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), and Kyle Kuzma (left hip strain).

The Sixers became the talk of the NBA by beating the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors, 113-104, two days later. It was a major accomplishment considering it was Philly’s first win over the Warriors since March 2, 2013. But some privately wondered if things would have been different if Golden State’s five-time All-Star guard Klay Thompson (sick) played.

And on Saturday, the Sixers were without two starters – Chandler (right quad strain) and JJ Redick (rest) – in a 115-108 loss to the Kings.

“I don’t want to read too deeply into [it], anyways,” coach Brett Brown said of finishing the road trip with a 2-2 record. “I think what you realize is we need a healthy team. The two losses that we had, you’re not fighting with your whole arsenal and you need to.”

It was a glaring problem against Kings (27-25). On paper, they were the least intimidating squad of the four teams on the trip.

They were a squad one would expect the Sixers (34-19), undermanned or not, to beat.

Even though Sixers' three stars played valiantly, the absence of the team’s two least heralded starters was hard overcome.

The Sixers had very little contribution outside of Butler, Embiid and Ben Simmons. The trio combined to score 80 of Philly’s 108 points.

Putting the Sixers on his back, Butler scored 18 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. He made 4 of 8 three-point attempts in the quarter after not attempting a three in the first three quarters. Embiid added 29 points and game highs of 17 rebounds and four blocks for his 43rd double-double of the season. Simmons had 22 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

Butler converted a four-point play to give the Sixers a 98-97 lead with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left. The teams exchanged the lead over the next seven possessions. The Kings took a 111-106 lead after Marvin Bagley’s putback with 59.9 seconds left. After Butler answered with a three-pointer, Willie Cauley-Stein made a foul shot. Then Buddy Hield (game-high 34 points) scored the next three points from the foul line to make it 115-108 with 21 seconds left.

“Nobody cares that we are undermanned,” Butler said of missing Redick and Chandler. “You don’t feel bad for us, right? Nobody cares that we are undermanned. We are still expected to go out there and compete and win games.”

But he later acknowledged they were missed.

Redick’s clutch shooting and Chandler’s intangibles were absent. Chandler spaces the floor on offense and is a solid defender.

He’ll definitely be missed while being sidelined with the quad strain over the next 2-to-3 weeks.

The Sixers flew home Saturday night after the game and were off on Sunday. Looking to rest up players, the team will have optional workouts on Monday.

Then on Tuesday, they’ll try to beat the Toronto Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center.

Despite his team’s 2-2 record, Simmons thinks the team progressed during the road trip.

“I think, chemistry-wise, we got a lot better,” he said. “Defensively and offensively, our communication got a lot better. Over time, there are still things we need to work on.”

When healthy, the Sixers are playing their best basketball of the season. They’re also tied with the Boston Celtics with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

But aside from displaying better communication, it’s hard to gauge just how much the Sixers have improved. You would love to see them face James and Thompson and have their full complement of starters against the Nuggets and Kings. One can argue their road trip comprised of four games of “the healthiest team wins.”