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By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – During the first half of the season, the Sixers beat up on bad teams to build a lead in the Atlantic Division. Now, they’ll have to beat those teams to keep it. That started Tuesday night against the Cavs, and continues tonight against the Washington Wizards.

The Sixers (28-22) have played the Wizards three times this year, winning all three by significant margins (31, 13, and 20 points). If that’s not enough, the teams played twice this pre-season, and the Sixers won both of those as well.

The Wizards (11-39), though losers of five in a row, are a different team than the last time the teams played and have been playing better. Since their last game against each other on January 23rd, the Wizards got a new coach, and traded guard Nick Young and center Javale McGee. As well, new coach Randy Wittman has been sitting forward Andray Blatche until his conditioning improves. The trade for Young and McGee brought them center Nene from Denver.

Not only are the Sixers final 16 games important for the division, as well as playoff seeding, but in the growth of their young backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. The combination has had its good and bad moments, and the final stretch of the season will give the team a better sense if the guards can grow together.

Andre Iguodala has missed the last two games for the Sixers due to knee tendonitis, but will start tonight.

The final stretch won’t be easy for the Sixers, as 11 of the 16 games are on the road. They play four sets of back-to-back games, and still have one back-to-back-t0-back remaining as well. They host the Atlanta Hawks, Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The game can be heard live on 610 WIP.

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