By Sam Bush
A two-game winning streak.
The Philadelphia 76ers.
Those two sentences actually go together, since the Sixers have indeed developed a streak after beating the Indiana Pacers last Saturday.
But tonight at the Wells they shoot for three in a row against the Atlanta Hawks, who have become one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
The Hawks (29-8) have gone an NBA-best 22-2 over the last six-plus weeks while holding opponents to 93.3 points per game. Atlanta, which began that 24-game span with nine straight wins from Nov. 28-Dec. 12, has outscored foes by an average of 10.0 points during its current run.
“This is my eighth year, and I’ve never seen us like this besides the playoffs,” forward Al Horford said. “I feel like the fans are starting to come out, they’re starting to believe and it’s exciting to see. We have a good team and we need their support.”
Atlanta doesn’t figure to get as much support on the road, where it’s earned a franchise best-tying eight consecutive wins in a single season for the first time since Dec. 10-30, 1957, when the team was based in St. Louis. The Hawks put together a nine-game run away from home spanning the 1966-67 and ’67-68 seasons, their last two before relocating to Atlanta.
The Sixers (7-29) could prove more competitive this time around – they have won three of four for their best four-game stretch since winning four straight Dec. 29-Jan. 4 just over a year go.
The 76ers are on the verge of a season-best third consecutive win after squeaking by Indiana 93-92 on Saturday. Tony Wroten (photo above) scored a team-high 20 points off the bench and Michael Carter-Williams delivered a go-ahead finger roll with 9.9 seconds left.
Philly shot 11 of 24 from long distance while limiting the Pacers to 4 of 18.
“They’re shooting the ball better and they’re just growing,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “You can see they’re putting in the work. Coach (Brett) Brown is doing a great job with them and they’re improving, both in their play and their confidence.”
The 76ers held Indiana to 33.3 percent from the floor to match their lowest mark allowed since Nov. 8, 2013. They’ve surrendered an average of 92.3 points in their last four games and have come a long way since opening 0-17.
“We try to stay pretty grounded and understand what we’re all about and what our purpose is,” Brown said. “(The 0-17 start) does seem a while ago. Whether what we’ve done lately has erased that stat, that fact from people’s minds, I don’t know.”