Ben Simmons’ insane stat in 76ers’ 35-year first
HEADING into the postseason, the Philadelphia 76ers are the hottest team in the NBA.
A 109-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks saw the 76ers win their 14th straight game; completing their first 50-win season since 2000-01, and matching the franchise's record for the longest win streak in a season.
The last time the 76ers won 14 games in a row was the 1982-83 season, which was the most recent 76ers team to win an NBA Championship, and they have an Australian rookie to thank for putting them in position to try to match that feat.
Ben Simmons finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, and four steals in the 76ers' home win, leading his team to their impressive win streak; six of which have come without All-Star centre, Joel Embiid.
The Melbourne native is averaging a triple-double over the 76ers' winning streak - 14.7 points, 10.8 assists, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game - with the stretch putting Brett Brown's team at a 50-30 record, good for third in the Eastern Conference.
"This shows have far we've come with this season," Simmons said.
"Everyone putting us lower than expected. I think we pushed through the times. We had a tough start with the team we've played.
"I think we got better over time."
It's the summation of The Process, which, by nearly all measures, has been a success.
Simmons and Embiid have led the way for a team that looks to have a real shot at competing in the playoffs - they're now one game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference standings - and the 76ers' ownership has built a team, and culture, that looks sustainable.
JJ Redick finished with a team-high 18 points in the Monday (AEST) matinee, while Robert Covington and Marco Belinelli each had 15 points.
With the win, the 76ers secured home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
"We are growing a culture," Brown said after the win.
"And, oh by the way, we've won 50 games and we have home-court advantage and we've tied a record. That's true. But that is never really what's most on my mind."
For the Mavericks, Harrison Barnes posted 21 points, while Dennis Smith Jr. finished with 20 points, five rebounds, and 11 assists.
"In our profession, Brett has become a legend," Mavericks head coach, Rick Carlisle, whose team is in a rebuild of its own, led by Smith Jr..
"He's just been unshakeable as a leader and as a guy that's always pushed his teams to always play at their highest capacity in terms of energy and effort.
"And as this thing has gone along, in the fourth or fifth year, they've built up the guys that they like and they've gotten rid of a lot of other guys that weren't quite good enough. They've added a few veterans and they've done a great job with the draft."
"I wouldn't want to play these guys in the first round with them having home-court. Not in this place."
The 76ers were, once again, without Embiid, who suffered a facial contusion at the end of March. Brown said his star centre could resume conditioning and shooting by Monday.
Next up for the 76ers is a game against the Atlanta Hawks, tipping off on Tuesday (AEST).