After starting off a slumping 0-7, the Sixers have won four of their last seven to improve to 4-10 on the season.
Monday’s 101-94 victory over the Heat marks the Sixers' first pair of back-to-back victories since March 18 and 20, 2015 (see Instant Replay). Just how long ago was that? Jason Richardson was in the starting lineup.
Last season, the Sixers did not reach four wins until Jan. 4, 2016, at which point they were 4-33.
All of the Sixers' wins this season have come at the Wells Fargo Center. They are in a very home-heavy portion of their schedule, with nine of their games already played in Philadelphia. They Sixers are 4-5 at home and 0-5 on the road.
The importance of the home record is not lost on the team. Brett Brown and Joel Embiid expressed their desire to win in front of their own crowd.
“One thing I always have in mind is make the fans happy,” Embiid said. “Especially at home, we want to win every game we can. Winning at home, it’s just great for the city. For the fans to come out every night and support us, we’ve got to give them back and get a win for them, too.”
Oh, Embiid certainly made the home fans happy.
Locked in a battle with Heat big man Hassan Whiteside (see story), who scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Embiid held his own in limited playing time. The rookie center had 22 points on 7 of 13 shooting along with five rebounds and three blocks in 23 minutes of action. Embiid also made some clutch free throws down the stretch.
Even the struggling Robert Covington managed to make the boo birds sing with cheers when he connected on a three-pointer with 3:00 remaining to push a two-point lead back up to five.
"The more that we can do things like this — what have we won, four games now at home in a row, is that right? — I'm proud of that. I'm proud of our guys doing that," Brown said.
The Sixers have three more games ahead of them to finish this homestand. Earning win No. 5 won’t be easy with the Grizzlies, Bulls and Cavs up next. Last season, the Sixers did not capture their fifth win until Jan. 16, 2016. They moved up to 5-37.
“It will be a good test for us,” Brown said. “We practice hard, the group stays together, we’ve taken some early hits, but I’m proud right now certainly of their effort and their ability to execute better and better as time’s gone on.”