MIAMI – The Sixers faced a tough test in Atlanta Wednesday night, but Friday’s test is a whole different animal.
The Sixers go into American Airlines Arena Friday night looking to do what the Miami Heat’s previous 16 opponents could not: win.
Yes, Miami is on a 16-game winning streak. The Heat are tied with the Spurs for the NBA’s fewest losses (14), and only three of those have come on Miami’s home floor.
Wednesday night, while the Sixers were lamenting their 107-96 loss to the Hawks, the Magic were on the verge of snapping the Heat’s mighty winning streak. It took a LeBron James layup in traffic with three seconds to play to secure Miami’s 97-96 win and keep the streak intact.
The Heat haven’t lost since Feb. 1 and a 24-point win over the Sixers is one of the victories on their current streak. It was the 12th straight time -- in the regular season -- that the Heat have beaten the Sixers.
“They are playing as good of basketball as anyone has in the last few years,” Spencer Hawes said. “Whether or not Orlando beat them was not our concern. We have to figure our own stuff that we have going.”
The “stuff” the Sixers have going is an 11-game road losing streak and losing 10 of their last 11 overall. Such a stretch would seemingly leave a hopeless feeling -- Hawes thinks otherwise.
“We are in a position where we have to come out and play a game that we love every night and we get paid to do it,” Hawes said. “We get paid well to do it. There is never a point where you say it is just hopeless. Like the record says, one game at a time. You go out there, do your job and have fun doing it. No matter how it keeps going, we have to keep that mindset.”
Hawes is averaging 10 points and 6.6 rebounds this season in 25.9 minutes. He has played in all 60 games thus far and switched from back-up center to starter 18 games ago.
On Twitter, the play of Hawes frustrates many fans. Below is one example of the disdain for his performance.
@dlynamcsn You're giving me numbers Dei. I can look those up. I'm talking intangibles. Where is the stat for how many "and 1's" he gives up?— James Fayleez (@James_Fayleez) March 7, 2013
Most certainly, Fayleez wasn’t happy when he woke up to see the box score from that Heat-Magic game, where next to Nikola Vucevic’s name was 25 points and 21 rebounds. It was the second 20-20 performance from the ex-Sixer this season against the Eastern Conference’s best team.
On the season, the Magic’s starting center, a talent the Sixers gave up in the Andrew Bynum trade, is averaging 12.3 points, 11.4 rebounds in 32.4 minutes per game.
The Sixers get their third and final look at Vucevic this season two days after they try to upend the NBA’s hottest team, the Miami Heat.