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Just when the 76ers seemed destined for a trip to the NBA Draft Lottery on May 23, they finally showed some signs of life.

Saturday's 89-75 victory over the Bulls in Chicago kept the Sixers' playoff hopes, which would have been all but extinguished with a loss, alive with six games remaining.

The 35-41 Sixers, who had lost 13 of 17 prior to Saturday, head into tonight's home game against the 39-37 Wizards tied with the Bulls for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff position. Although the teams split the regular-season series, Chicago holds the tiebreaker by virtue of a better record vs. the East (24-22 to the Sixers' 19-27).

“It's going to be big,” said Allen Iverson of the Washington match-up. “We can go in there with a little momentum and some confidence. We've been struggling lately. We'll go in there and fight hard on our home court.”

A victory this evening would be the Sixers' first against a winning team since March 12 in Memphis. They haven't beaten a .500-plus club at the Wachovia Center since downing the Wizards on March 3.

The Sixers are 2-7 in their last nine home games. They are only 10-14 at home against Eastern opponents.

“I think if our record was better, it would be indicative of our home record being a lot better,” said Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks.

If the Sixers can defend and rebound the way they did against the Bulls, they'll have a chance versus Washington. The Sixers limited Chicago to a season-low 32.6 percent shooting from the field (25 percent from 3-point land) and held a 51-37 edge on the boards.


Chicago guards Kirk Hinrich (2-for-13) and Ben Gordon (3-for-10) shot a combined 5-for-23.

“Fortunately, for us, none of their guards were having a good night,” Cheeks said. “We did play good defense, but that was the real difference.”

With Chris Webber (lower back strain) out, Cheeks went with Steven Hunter, who had played a total of three minutes in the three previous games, and Samuel Dalembert inside. Hunter (nine points, nine rebounds) and Dalembert (12 points, 14 rebounds) provided 21 points, 23 boards and four blocked shots.

“Sammy and Steven gave us the rebounding we needed,” Cheeks said. “They controlled the boards defensively and then got some big offensive boards to keep us alive at the other end.”

The Sixers hope to have Webber and Kevin Ollie (strained right quad) back for this evening's game. Regardless of who's on the floor, it's imperative the effort is there.

“If everyone comes in (tonight) with the same attitude and competitiveness as they did (Saturday), we'll win,” said Iverson, who had a game-high 39 points against Chicago.

After the Wizards, the Sixers close out the regular season by visiting the Nets (Wednesday), Heat (Friday) and Magic (Saturday), then hosting the Nets (April 18) and visiting the Bobcats (April 19).
LINK


Look at that last paragraph. That's why losses to teams like the Warriors hurt so much. The have to win this, the Magic, and the Bobcat games.
 
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