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Of all the places the Philadelphia 76ers could hope to put an end to their franchise-record 24-game losing streak, San Antonio might just be on the bottom of the list. The 76ers face a daunting task Monday night as they face a Spurs team that has reeled off 13 consecutive victories and owns the best record in the league. Philadelphia moved to within two losses of equaling the NBA record Saturday night, when it dropped a hard-fought 91-81 decision to host Chicago.
With the matchup expected to be as one-sided as they come - oddsmakers have the Spurs installed as a 21 1/2-point favorite - San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich may take the opportunity to give one or several of his veteran players the day off. The Spurs have the inside track on the top seed in the West, and bolstered their resume with a 99-90 win over Golden State on Saturday. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili missed the game to rest, and may do the same Monday.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TCN (Philadelphia), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)
ABOUT THE 76ERS (15-55): Philadelphia players have been getting the same questions for the better part of two months: How are they dealing with all the losing? And will it ever end? For their part, the majority of the 76ers are handling thing well - at least, publicly. "At the end of the day, we are going to get over the hump," forward Thaddeus Young told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We've just got to figure out how to make shots at crucial moments in the game and execute and just go out there and be ready."
ABOUT THE SPURS (53-16): While Duncan and Ginobili watched in street clothes, San Antonio went up big in the early going and held on to beat the Warriors en route to their 53rd victory of the season. It was a strange occurrence for the Spurs, who have been a middle-of-the-pack team in first-quarter scoring this season - ranked 13th in the NBA at 25.7 points per game. San Antonio has traditionally saved its best work for the latter stages of the game - ranked sixth in third-quarter scoring (26) and first in fourth-quarter points (27.1).
1. The Spurs won their previous meeting 109-85 in Philadelphia on Nov. 11 and have taken five straight in the series.
2. Young averages 11.8 points in 13 career games (six starts) against San Antonio.
3. With a loss to the Spurs, the 76ers will have a chance to tie the record for longest losing streak Thursday in Houston.
PREDICTION: Spurs 117, 76ers 94