|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)01:0020:00 ET6:00 PM CT23:00 , May 5, 2021
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas Attendance: 3,583
76ers, Ben Simmons aim to fine-tune defense against Rockets
Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets
- The 76ers have lost eight of their last nine games in Houston, winning in Space City only on October 30, 2017.
- The 76ers have won five straight games, one shy of their longest winning streak this season (six games from March 1-16).
- The 76ers have averaged 7.2 more points per game at home (117.2) than on the road (110.0) this season. The only NBA team with a larger difference in favor of home games this season is the Cavaliers (+8.1 at home, 108.2 to 100.1).
- The Rockets are one loss away from their first 50-loss season since going 28-54 in 2001-02, leading to their drafting Yao Ming with the #1 overall pick. The only NBA team that has gone longer than Houston since its last 50-loss season is the Spurs (last in 1996-97, and they have not even had a 40-loss season since then).
- Seth Curry scored 25 points when these teams met on February 17, his second highest total in any game this season (28 against the Wizards on January 6).
- Kelly Olynyk had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists on Sunday against the Knicks for his second 15/10/5 game in the NBA. The other one was earlier this year, on March 4 against the Pelicans (18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists).
- Bucks draw even with Nets, Irving hurt
- Suns look to complete sweep of Nuggets
- Clippers beat Jazz to cut deficit to 2-1
- NBA disciplines Durant's security guard
- Depleted 76ers aim to go up 3-1 on Hawks
The Philadelphia 76ers will conclude a three-game road trip Wednesday against the Houston Rockets seeking to extend their winning streak to six games and continue their penchant for late-game defensive heroics.
The Sixers have come to rely upon guard Ben Simmons in end-game situations, with an exceptional defensive play by him often providing the 76ers with a stop at a most critical juncture.
Simmons remains integral to everything the 76ers do, on both ends of the court, but it is his defensive might that earns constant raves. Simmons, exceptional defensively throughout the season, continues to make a habit of thriving when the moment is dire and the need pressing.
"Every night," 76ers coach Doc Rivers said when asked to distill two specific defensive plays that Simmons made to preserve recent Philadelphia victories. "You don't see me campaigning and I'm not going to, I'm just going to say it again: There's not a better defender in this league.
"We're talking about ultra-quick guys, we're talking about big guys. His ability, his strength is I think what surprises most guys that he's guarding. He's just been really good for us."
The 76ers (44-21) entered Tuesday second in the NBA to the Los Angeles Lakers in defensive rating at 106.8 points allowed per 100 possessions and Simmons, a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, ranks in the top 10 in multiple advanced statistical categories reflecting individual defensive prowess.
Solidifying the defense for the stretch run is a primary goal for the 76ers, whose offense has been pedestrian despite the presence of an MVP frontrunner in center Joel Embiid and a collection of capable shooters charged with spreading the floor for Simmons' daring forays to the rim. This latest stretch of positive results has the 76ers atop the Eastern Conference (one game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets, entering Tuesday night), and being on the brink of clinching the top seed for the playoffs is incentive for the 76ers to keep pushing.
"The last couple of games for us [has been] just trying to get our full rhythm and make a big push here towards the end of the year," 76ers forward Tobias Harris said. "Being in first place is good, it's been a goal for us all year long. We want to sustain it. We're just looking to ride this thing out being as healthy as possible and in a great rhythm for when we start the playoffs."
The Rockets' offensive struggles have been extreme, and their reliance on relatively inexperienced players has exacerbated their shortcomings. Yet, despite the numerous lumps Houston (16-49) has taken this season, the opportunity to compete against a juggernaut is embraced.
"Obviously they've got size, lots of length with Embiid," Rockets forward Kelly Olynyk said. "And they've got big guards, big wings. They can switch, they can pressure, they've got active hands. They do a lot of different things and they do them well.
"They're pretty disciplined. They're going to help recover, they close the gaps to shooters well. They have a good record for a reason, so it's going to be a good challenge for us and something we look forward to."
The challenge will be stuff for Houston, which is 6-40 after a 10-9 start to the season and owns the worst record in the NBA.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 4, 2021