With the Sixers' 105-95 win over the Portland Trail Blazers they've improved to 4-0 on this five game road trip, with a late Saturday night tip against the Sacramento Kings (25-18) the only thing standing in the way between the Sixers and a flawless trip out west.
More importantly, despite all the injuries that they have suffered in the first 45 games of the season, the win moves the Sixers into a tie with the Milwaukee Bucks for second place in the Eastern Conference, as the top-5 in the East begin to separate themselves from the pack.
We focus a lot on the team's imperfections, which is somewhat unavoidable for a team that has not yet found the postseason success that many expect them to. But they're in an undeniably good spot at this stage in the season, with rapidly growing chemistry between their two star players and a full roster available to them, a rarity this deep into the season.
The key takeaway
This was, without question, the best defensive performance from the new starting lineup in the four games since Doc Rivers made the switch, as the Sixers outscored the Blazers 45-31 in 19 minutes of play with the starters on the floor. Portland shot just 35.1% from the field, and 3-16 from 3-point range, during that time.
It was an especially impressive performance when you consider the run that the Blazers, and Damian Lillard especially, were on coming in. Over the previous six games the Blazers were averaging 121.7 points per 100 possessions on offense, with Lillard putting up video game numbers to lead the way (39 points, 6.7 assists, 2.5 turnovers, 54.1% shooting, 37.5% from 3 on 10.7 attempts per game over that six game stretch).