The 76ers are hosting the struggling Magic tonight, hoping to end a five-game losing streak (see game preview).
After a loss to the Knicks on Sunday, Philadelphia sits four games behind the Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and is 10 games below .500 for the first time this season (see story).
Tonight’s NBA schedule features eight games, and here is a preview of the most notable matchups:
Kings at Heat, 7:30 p.m.
The team with the NBA’s longest winning streak will host the team tied for the NBA’s longest losing streak.
The red-hot Miami Heat (40-14) have won 11 straight games with eight of the 11 coming by 10 or more points. At times, they have looked virtually unstoppable. However on Sunday, they narrowly avoided a huge comeback by the Cavaliers. Miami had a 22-point lead, lost it, but still managed to come back from an eight-point deficit to escape with a 109-105 win. LeBron James had a game-high 28 points to go along with eight assists, and Dwyane Wade scored 11 of his 24 points in the final five minutes.
The ice-cold Sacramento Kings (19-38) have lost five in a row and 13 of their last 16. Their offense is still on point, but their defense has become a huge problem. Sacramento has surrendered 100 or more points in seven straight games (2-5), dropping them to last in the NBA in points allowed per game (104.3). On Sunday in a 110-95 loss to the Hornets, six different Kings scored in double-figures, but they allowed New Orleans to shoot 50.6 percent from the floor.
Miami won the only other meeting with Sacramento this season, 128-99 on Jan. 12. Mario Chalmers and Isaiah Thomas exploded for 34 points each. Miami is 24-3 at home, and the Kings are 5-25 on the road.
Nets at Hornets, 8 p.m.
The Nets could be without their second-leading scorer Joe Johnson for a third straight game when they face the Hornets. Brooklyn (33-24) is 0-2 in the two games Johnson has missed. Its latest loss came at home to Memphis, a 76-72 defeat. Deron Williams led all scorers with 24 points, but did not get much help from his teammates as only two other Nets scored in double-figures.
New Orleans (20-37) just snapped a three-game losing skid with a 110-95 rout of the Kings. Anthony Davis had a game-high 20 points, and five other Hornets had 12 or more points. Greivis Vasquez had a double-double with 12 points and 13 assists, and New Orleans missed just one free throw all game (14 for 15).
This is the first meeting between these two teams this season. Over the past two seasons, the Hornets are 2-1 against the Nets, but have struggled at home so far this year, posting a 10-17 record.
Bucks at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.
Milwaukee has struggled of late, losing three straight and nine of eleven. However, they still sit four games ahead of the Sixers for the final playoff spot in the East. The Bucks’ (26-28) last three losses have come by a combined six points, including a 103-102 loss to the Hawks. Larry Sanders had 12 points and 19 rebounds, but Al Horford sunk the eventual game winner for Atlanta with 5.9 seconds left.
Dallas (25-30) had won five of six before Sunday’s loss to the Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki had his first 30-point game of the season and also grabbed 13 boards, but the Mavs could not overcome a dominant 38-point, 12-rebound, seven-assist performance by Kobe Bryant.
Milwaukee and Dallas have not yet met this season, but the Bucks are 2-1 against the Mavericks over the past two years.