The Philadelphia 76ers hope to accomplish two things tonight in the Garden State, record a win to clinch a playoff berth and spoil the Nets' final game in New Jersey before the franchise heads to Brooklyn.
The 76ers need a win tonight or a Milwaukee loss to Toronto in order to punch their ticket to the postseason for a second straight year and for the fourth time in five seasons. They have won two in a row since dropping three straight and seven of nine games, and outlasted the Indiana Pacers, 109-106, in overtime Saturday night.
A subject of criticism much of the season for lack of production, Jrue Holiday put the Sixers ahead for good with a jump shot with 31.8 seconds to go in the extra frame and finished with 17 points and seven assists. Elton Brand had a team-high 20 points and nine rebounds, while Andre Iguodala added 16 points and five rebounds for Philadelphia, which is 2-0 on a regular-season ending five-game road trip and one-half game behind New York for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
"I couldn't be more proud of our guys," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "It would have been a shame if we had lost this game because we played so well."
Lou Williams contributed 19 points off the bench in the win. The Sixers will also visit the Bucks and Pistons on the trek and own a 14-16 record away from home this season. Philadelphia has won four of its last five road contests.
A win tonight for Philly would not only secure a playoff spot, but will guarantee the Sixers a winning record for the first time since finishing 43-39 in 2004-05. The 76ers are still a disappointing 13-21 since a 20-9 start to the condensed season.
April has been a trying period for the Nets, as they are just 3-7 in 10 games this month. The Nets have lost four in a row and hope to give their fans something to remember tonight before moving to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 campaign. The two-time ABA champions never made a splash in the NBA except for two straight trips to the Finals in 2001-02, 2002-03.
The Nets once had Julius Erving and many others such as Buck Williams, Drazen Petrovic, Derrick Coleman and Jason Kidd. The current roster has some talent in Deron Williams, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, but the future status of Williams is uncertain since he's a free agent at season's end. Williams has missed three straight games with a sore calf and could be sidelined again for Monday's festivities.
New Jersey recently suffered a 106-95 loss at Milwaukee Saturday and received a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds from Wallace. MarShon Brooks posted 17 points and Gerald Green netted 16 for the Nets, who got 12 points and seven rebounds from Humphries.
"The frustrating part for us is that we're in these games with playoff teams and we're not in the playoffs," Nets forward Jordan Williams said.
The Nets are just 9-23 as the host this season and will close out the year against the Raptors up north on Thursday. New Jersey will try to win a series over the Sixers for the first time since sweeping all four meetings back in the 2008-09 campaign. Philadelphia has still won nine of 11 against the Nets, losers in five straight at home to the Sixers.