By Ben Sullivan
The Sixers return to the Wells Fargo Center tonight to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Will the crowd treat them as:
Conquering heroes for having finally won a game — Wednesday night at Minnesota?
Slumbering mostly D-Leaguers?
A team that has to play the game that will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the rollout of the United States Postal Service’s Wilt Chamberlain stamp?
The answer is all of the above.
Looking to build on their first victory, the Sixers try to avoid an 11th consecutive loss to the visiting Thunder.
Philly had been outscored by an average of 14.4 points in opening 0-17 before pulling out an 85-77 win at Minnesota on Wednesday. Michael Carter-Williams had 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as the Sixers avoided matching the worst start in NBA history.
“There’s a human side of it. You walk into that locker room and you’re just proud of them for staying together,” coach Brett Brown said of his players. “This validates the work that they’ve put in and I have a tremendous amount of respect that they never once quit on themselves, short-circuited a practice and they were rewarded tonight.”
Carter-Williams is averaging a triple-double over the last three games with 20.7 points, 10.0 boards and 10.7 assists.
“For me personally, I think it’s a big relief off my chest,” he said. “They say they feel more relaxed now that we’ve got a win and I think we can build off of this and get some more. … We just have to keep working.”
Another victory could be hard to come by against the Thunder, who have taken the last 10 meetings by an average of 13.5 points. Kevin Durant has averaged 31.6 points on 51.1 percent shooting while playing in all nine games since 2009-10.
He racked up 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in a 103-91 win at Philadelphia on Jan. 25, then scored 42 in a 125-92 rout March 4.
The Thunder (5-13) had posted their first set of back-to-back wins before falling 112-104 at New Orleans on Tuesday in Durant’s first game since missing the first 17 with a fractured right foot. The four-time scoring champ finished with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting.
“I was confident in myself. I knew my wind wasn’t where I wanted it to be, obviously, but I felt good out there,” he said. “I just got to keep putting together good days and I’ll keep getting back to where I want to be. To get back to midseason form like I want to be is going to take some time. No excuses for me.”
Philly is on the verge of becoming the first club to lose its first 11 home games since Orlando in 2003-04.