With the NBA All-Star break rapidly approaching, the Philadelphia 76ers play a pair of pivotal weekend games, starting with a home game against the defending-champion Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
The Sixers have lost three straight home games and have just one win at the Wells Fargo Center in February. They'll look to end that streak on Friday night, but will have to do so without the services of their starting center, Spencer Hawes. Hawes, who averages a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game, will be out until after the All-Star break.
The Mavs come to town winners of five straight games, and are starting to regain the form that carried them to the franchise's first championship last season. They too will be without important roster pieces, as both Jason Terry and Delonte West -- key guards off the bench for Dallas -- will miss Friday's game with injuries.
On Sunday, the Sixers will travel to Minnesota to take on Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and the Timberwolves. It'll be Philly's only chance to see the 'Wolves this season, as the truncated NBA season has eliminated multiple out-of-conference games.
Love has established himself as a premier NBA power forward, and will play in his second All-Star game next weekend, while Rubio headlines the rosters for the Rising Stars game, to be played next Friday in Orlando.
The Sixers head into the weekend in good shape in the Atlantic Division, up four and a half games over the fading Boston Celtics. The New York Knicks, however, are surging behind the play of point guard revelation Jeremy Lin, and have won seven straight games to get back within five games of Philadelphia.
After Sunday, the Sixers will play two more road games prior to the All-Star festivities.