Trail Blazers-76ers Preview
Although one of their top scorers hasn't been at his best, the Portland Trail Blazers have produced one of their longest win streaks in 2015-16.
The Blazers will try to extend that run to a season-high four games in Saturday night's visit to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers.
C.J. McCollum has connected at just 33.3 percent from the floor in his last five games while averaging 16.6 points, a significant drop from his 21.1 in his first 35 contests. He had 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting Friday against Brooklyn, and Damian Lillard scored 33 in a 116-104 victory.
Portland's bench provided 47 points with Allen Crabbe scoring 19 and Ed Davis chipping in 14 on 6-of-6 shooting. The Blazers' reserves are averaging 41.7 points in the three-game win streak, a bump from their 32.5 per contest in the first 39 games.
"Our team is playing as well as we've played all year right now," Lillard said. "It feels good."
Portland (18-24) will seek its four-game win streak since March 25-30 when it faces the NBA's worst team. The Blazers will also try for their first three-game road win streak in 2015-16 in the continuation of a three-game trip.
Philadelphia (4-37) has dropped four in a row since winning the opener of a season-high six-game homestand but nearly topped Chicago on Thursday. The 76ers rallied to force overtime after blowing their 24-point lead from the first half but fell 115-111.
"I was pleased with them the whole game. Really, really pleased," coach Brett Brown said. "How can we not leave that game feeling like the team is heading in the right direction?"
Robert Covington had 25 points while Ish Smith added 24, including the tying 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation. Smith is averaging 20.6 points in his last five games and 17.0 in his 10 since being traded to Philadelphia by New Orleans on Dec. 24.
Smith totaled seven points on 3-of-15 shooting in his three games against the Blazers this season while with the Pelicans.
The Blazers won both meetings against the 76ers last season by an average of 15.5 points and notched a 114-104 victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 24, 2014, their second straight win in that building.
"We've got to make sure we bring our A game, come out from the start with aggression and try to jump on them," McCollum said.
Lillard had 28 points in Portland's most recent matchup with the 76ers, a 114-93 win Dec. 26, 2014. He had 10 assists and no turnovers in Friday's victory after averaging 4.8 giveaways in his first five games back from a sore left foot.
"I've been turning the ball over a lot more than I would like to," Lillard said. "It doesn't help our team, and I'm glad that I was finally able to get a game with zero."
Lillard has averaged 31.3 points while making 23 of 46 from 3-point range in the last four contests. He is shooting 53.6 percent overall in the three-game win streak.