Sixers win 14th straight as Jazz book playoff spot
BEN Simmons scored 16 points as the Philadelphia 76ers routed the Dallas Mavericks to extend their winning streak to 14 games in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff race on Sunday.
Australian star Simmons finished with 9 assists and 7 rebounds as the Sixers cruised to a 109-97 victory to move one win clear of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the standings.
The Sixers and the Cavaliers are locked in a duel for the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, with Philadelphia now at 50-30 for the season, ahead of Cleveland, which is fourth at 49-31.
Philadelphia is now assured of at least a top-four finish in the East after Sunday’s victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
The win also guarantees Philadelphia home-court advantage for the start of the playoffs.
“To win 50 games with two games remaining, 14 in a row, to secure home-court advantage is fantastic,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “Our season has been exceptional. The group has continued to improve and those things are that I will remember the most. There is a toughness to our group.”
With the injured Joel Embiid close to a return, the Sixers will enter the postseason brimming with confidence after another impressive win.
Simmons was one of five Sixers players to make double figures, with JJ Redick leading the scoring for the hosts with 18 points.
Simmons was satisfied to reach 50 wins for the season, two years after the Sixers finished with a dismal 10-72 record at the foot of the Eastern Conference.
“It’s huge for the team,” Simmons said. “It shows how far we’ve come for the season.
“I think we’ve pushed through the tough times and I think we’re getting a lot better over time ... it’s been very enjoyable.”
Harrison Barnes led the scoring for the Mavs with 21 points, with Dennis Smith Jr adding 20 points and Dwight Powell 13.
In Los Angeles, Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points to help the Utah Jazz clinch a playoff berth with a 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Utah is the fourth team in the crowded Western Conference to lock up a postseason spot, with five clubs still in the running for the other four positions before the regular season ends.
Mitchell also had 9 rebounds and 8 assists, and Joe Ingles had 22 points along with 10 assists. Jae Crowder added 18.
Josh Hart had 25 points for Los Angeles, which has lost 6 of 8.
Elsewhere, it was: Warriors 117, Suns 100; Raptors 112, Magic 101; Pacers 123, Hornets 117; Hawks 112, Celtics 106; and Grizzlies 130, Pistons 117.