National Basketball Association
Thunder-76ers Preview
National Basketball Association

Thunder-76ers Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 9:26 p.m. ET

Dion Waiters had an emotional return to the court his last time out after the funeral of his younger brother.

It figures to be emotional for Waiters again Friday night when he returns to his hometown as his visiting Oklahoma City Thunder seek to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers for the 14th straight meeting.

Waiters left the team last Wednesday to attend the funeral of younger brother Demetrius Pinckney, who was killed in South Philadelphia on March 8. The fourth-year shooting guard missed four games before he came back for this Wednesday's 130-109 rout at Boston.

He was in a shooting slump before leaving the team, making 5 of 23 shots in three games. Waiters returned and made 1 of 5, although he tapped his chest near his heart and pointed to the sky after making his only one with a 3 from the left wing early in the second quarter.


Waiters is averaging 11.8 points on 35.2 percent shooting in four career games at Philadelphia.

"It's another game but I get a chance to be with my family, be around my little brothers and sisters," Waiters said. "You just try to cherish the moment because you just never know. You never know what type of situation you're going to be in as far as like family, anything can happen."

There won't be too much intrigue about Friday's outcome since the Thunder's streak over the 76ers (9-59) matches Cleveland's run over Orlando as the longest current win streaks by one team over another.

Making matters worse is that Philadelphia, which fell 99-94 at home to Washington on Thursday, is 1-13 in the second half of back-to-back games. Oklahoma City (46-22) will be trying to preserve its energy for Saturday's game at Indiana since the Thunder are 5-7 in the second half of back-to-backs.

These teams like to play at a fast tempo, with Philadelphia averaging 100.3 possessions per 48 minutes and Oklahoma City at 99.5. It figures to be a recipe for disaster for the lowly Sixers, who average a league-worst 17.3 turnovers as they match up with a Thunder team that averages 17.2 fast-break points for one of the league's best marks.

"We've realized that if we get stops, we get out on the break and it's hard for teams to stop us when we get out on the break," Thunder guard Randy Foye said.

Oklahoma City has cruised to two wins this week, 128-94 at home over Portland on Monday before Wednesday's opener to a three-game trip. Kevin Durant scored 48 in those games and Russell Westbrook had 41 and 21 assists.

Durant sat out with a strained left hamstring in a 102-85 rout of the Sixers on Nov. 13. Westbrook had 21 points, 17 boards and 11 assists.

Philadelphia had a healthy Jahlil Okafor then and fell to 1-8 since the rookie was lost for the season after Thursday's defeat. Ish Smith scored 20 in the Sixers' 16th defeat in 17 games as their rally from 24 points down fell short.

''I'm proud of their fight,'' coach Brett Brown said. ''We did fight back. It turned into a game we could have stolen.''


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