The phrase "home sweet home" doesn't seem to apply when the 76ers square off with the New Jersey Nets at the Wells Fargo Center.
In two meetings at home against the Nets this season the Sixers are 0-2, and a crucial loss last night has set the Sixers back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
With just seven games to play, the Sixers currently hold a two-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth seed in the East. Although they are tied with the Knicks for the seventh seed (the Knicks hold the tie-breaker), the eighth seed would appear to be a more comfortable position for the Sixers if they can indeed hold on.
As I recently noted, a first-round matchup with the Bulls would be more favorable than one with last year's playoff opponent, the Miami Heat.
On Friday night, the Sixers simply could not pull away from the Nets as they had done just three days earlier on New Jersey's home floor.
Although the Sixers boasted balanced scoring once again with four players scoring in double-figures, they had no answer inside for Nets power forward Kris Humphries. Humphries posted 18 points and 13 rebounds in the nearly 40 minutes he was on the floor, punishing the Sixers on the glass on every available opportunity.
While the Sixers did maintain a balanced offense, only two starters (Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday) finished in double-figures. Elton Brand, who started the game 4-of-4 from the field for eight points, went scoreless in the second half.
Evan Turner, whose brief stint as a starter recently came to an end, actually posted one of his best lines of the season on Friday despite the loss. Turner dropped 19 points on 9-of-16 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in about 27 minutes of work off of the bench.
It's a disappointing loss for a Sixers team looking to hit their stride heading into the postseason, and unfortunately, things don't get easier moving forward.
After a weekend off, the Sixers will head to Orlando on Monday night and return home Tuesday to face a hot Indiana Pacers squad in games that will certainly have playoff implications.
Once they're through with the Magic and Pacers, the Sixers will finish the season on a five-game road trip. The Sixers are 12-15 on the road this season.