The Sixers (11-25) open up a back-to-back set against the Charlotte Hornets (20-19) at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).
Let's take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Rolling into a tough stretch
When is the last time you could realistically say the Sixers were on a roll?
Yeah, it's been quite a while. However, that's exactly what is going on with the young team right now.
T.J. McConnell hit the jump shot heard 'round the world at the buzzer on Wednesday to give the Sixers a 98-97 win over the New York Knicks. It marked the squad's 11th victory to surpass last season's total and its fourth in the last five games.
That's more than enough reason for the Sixers to celebrate after the historic struggles they have gone through over the past few years. But with four straight games against Eastern Conference foes with records above .500 on tap, they are trying to remain even keel.
“You wake up and you’re like, ‘Damn, that was a great win last night,’” Nerlens Noel said (see story). “But obviously there’s a lot more work to do. It’s a long season. This is a great stretch for us, but you want to stay away from the bad ones.”
2. Watch out for the swarm
Oh, the bad ones. Like shooting 39.5 percent from the field and committing 19 turnovers during a 16-point loss?
That's what happened the first time the Sixers faced the Hornets this season way back on Nov. 2. The Sixers allowed Charlotte to score 39 points in the third quarter and six players to reach double-digit points in that loss, their fourth straight to open the season.
The two teams couldn't have been on more different tracks at that time. For the Sixers, Joel Embiid was sitting out the second half of a back-to-back set for rest as they were still figuring out their rotation. Meanwhile, Charlotte was building off last season's success on its way to a 6-1 mark to open the 2016-17 campaign.
Now, it's the Sixers on the upswing and going for a third straight win for the first time since 2014, while the Hornets are losers of five of six.
3. Keep an eye on Kemba
No matter how improved the Sixers are, they still can't afford to let Kemba Walker get going.
The guard is 16th in the NBA in scoring with 23.1 points per night and can catch fire in the blink of an eye.
Walker had 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds in the season's first matchup.
McConnell may be riding the wave of his big shot on offense a couple of nights ago, but it will be his defense on Walker that likely determines the outcome on Friday.
Embiid (ankle) is probable. Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.
Jeremy Lamb (foot) is out for the Hornets.
5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost six straight to the Hornets.
• The Hornets have the lowest turnover rate in the NBA with 11.9 per game.
• Richaun Holmes was assigned to the Delaware 87ers and is expected to be in uniform for their game tonight against the Greensboro Swarm.
• Ersan Ilyasova's first game with the Sixers was against the Hornets earlier this season. He tied a team-high with 14 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes off the bench.