By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers were able to get off to a hot start this year by consistently beating sub .500 teams. In fact, they’ve only lost two games to such teams all season. After five straight losses heading into the All-Star break, a game against the Pistons (11-24) is exactly what they need.

The Sixers (20-14) offense has sputtered in recent weeks. They haven’t scored 100 points since January 23rd, and have averaged just 83 points per game during their losing streak. They’re going to have to try to figure it out without Spencer Hawes for the time being. Hawes, who saw a specialist about his injured Achilles over the weekend, will not play in a game for at least two more weeks. He was able to remove the protective boot he’s been wearing.

The Pistons  started the season winning just two of their first nine games, but have played better of late. They’ve won seven of their last eleven games, including two against the Celtics. They’ve been led by second-year center Greg Monroe, who’s leading the team in scoring and rebounding. Monroe had one of the most talked about highlights of Friday night’s Rising Stars game, stealing the ball from Washington’s John Wall and preventing a dunk toward the end of the game.

The Sixers have played and defeated the Pistons twice this season, and won the games by an average of 21 points. The Pistons have scored just 147 points combined in the two games.

The Sixers will welcome Elton Brand back to the lineup, who practiced yesterday. Brand has missed the last two games with a sprained thumb that he first injured against the Heat on February 3rd, and then aggravated in their game against the Timberwolves on the 19th.

Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Daily News beat writer Bob Cooney:

The game will start at 7:30, and can be heard live on 94WIP.

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