The Philadelphia 76ers are closing out the month of April as hot as they started the season and will shoot for a fifth straight win tonight against the Detroit Pistons in the finale of a five-game road trip.
The Sixers are headed to the playoffs for a second straight season and fourth time in five years. They are currently even with the New York Knicks for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference, but the Knicks hold the tiebreaker and will visit lowly Charlotte tonight.
Philadelphia opened the truncated campaign with a sizzling 20-9 mark and led the Atlantic Division for quite some time. However, an 11-21 mark the next 32 games dropped the Sixers all the way down the East standings and had many wondering if this team would punch a ticket to the postseason. Currently riding a four-game winning streak, it appears the 76ers are beginning to play better basketball in time for a playoff run and will face either Chicago or Miami in the opening round.
In last night's 90-85 victory at Milwaukee, Evan Turner scored 29 points and Jodie Meeks added 27, while head coach Doug Collins opted to rest starters Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand as well as key reserves Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young. Turner added 13 rebounds and played more than 40 minutes (40:32).
"It feels good, but when you haven't done it in a while you're killing your stomach a little bit and you're tired," Turner said of his playing time.
The 76ers are 16-16 on the road this season.
Detroit will close out its season in front of the home crowd and hasn't made the playoffs since getting swept out of the first round back in 2008-09.
The Pistons dropped a 103-97 decision at Indiana on Monday, as Greg Monroe led the way with 18 points and 12 boards. Brandon Knight scored 16 points, Tayshaun Prince netted 14 and Charlie Villanueva chipped in 13 points for Detroit, which has lost eight of its last 11 games.
"It was an up-and-down game. We had a lot of opportunities that we didn't capitalize on, and we came up a little bit short," Knight said.
Head coach Lawrence Frank will close out his first stint with the Pistons and battled through an inconsistent season. Frank has a solid nucleus to work with in Monroe, Knight, Prince, and Rodney Stuckey. Center Ben Wallace could be playing his last game in the NBA and mentioned before he would retire at the conclusion of this season. Wallace is a four-time Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-Star. He won a title with the Pistons in 2004 and owns more than 10,000 rebounds, 2,000 blocks and 900 steals.
The Pistons own a 17-15 record at home and will try to avoid a four-game season sweep at the hands of the Sixers, who haven't swept Detroit since the 2000-01 campaign (4-0).